07 May 2008

Lies, Damn Lies, and Posters

Can I just say right now how much I hate this poster?

This hangs in one of the classrooms of my morning school. It's at the very front of the room, so students have to look at it every period of every day. While the teacher does her thing, this is the message that's in front of them. It makes me feel unwell---I'm not sure what it does to kids.

This poster takes away hope and that's just wrong. It implies that there are no do-overs, second chances, or mulligans in life. That's such a lie. Whether it's retaking your driver's test, fussing with a new recipe to make things "just right," or building relationships with others, life is full of mistakes and opportunities to try, try again.

As I finish up my doctoral work, I know that I am hyper-aware of classroom factors which increase or decrease motivation. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the teacher put the poster up a few years ago and never gives it a second thought...but maybe she should. I wonder what would happen if her classroom reflected the value of learning over a lifetime as opposed to punishment for failure?


brian said...

I recently saw this poster in a classroom and had similar thoughts! I think the purpose is to scare kids into always making the "right" choice, but I agree that it could easily push kids not to try for fear of failure.

hschinske said...

For the most part I've found real life is actually *more* forgiving than the artificial world of school. Yeah, there are certain situations where one slip can kill you or change your life forever -- but those are in one's life ANYWAY, whether one is in school or not. High school kids are hardly immune from STDs and drunken car crashes, just because they also have term papers and finals.


Hugh O'Donnell said...

I wonder why future surgeons get to practice on cadavers, or future pilots fly simulators.

That post should be banned by the principal.