Frustration is educational

Trying to perform her own songs has taught Hip Teacher a valuable lesson: What it feels like to be “a moron.”

I am good at many things, so I’ve stayed away from the things that don’t come easily for me. I hate it when I don’t automatically get something. But what a cop-out is that? I’m never going to work through the tough stuff? How can I expect my students to keep struggling if I can’t do the same?

I have a new respect for those who can stick it out and keep trying. We can’t be brilliant at everything. So, the next time a kid freaks out in my class because he/she doesn’t get an assignment or can’t understand a passage, I’m probably going to feel and react a whole lot differently.

I was the least talented singer in my a cappella group. I had to work harder than anybody else just to be adequate. It was an educational experience for me.

About Joanne


  1. This is one of the most important lessons. You will never teach people that talent is insufficient for success if they don’t have the opportunity to struggle early on. They need to learn early in life that there are others with far more talent than they have, in something, and hard work and discipline will be needed to achieve.

    Bright and very bright kids often don’t learn this lesson until college–far too late, because they have no idea how to learn, how to study, how to be disciplined. By then, it’s too late. Those who have learned will surpass them, and really, the stakes are far too high to risk abject failure. Learning this lesson when young is helpful.

    We might ask why sports coaches are able to teach these lessons to students who are otherwise underperforming. It seems obvious that in sports, drill-and-kill is the requirement to get to play more interesting positions or strategies. Coaches know a lot about frustration as a motivator.

    This is why sports, music, art, or other nonacademic subjects are important for people, too. They are a venue where obvious talent still needs to be honed, and where hard work very obviously improves one’s performance.