What makes a student a success? How successful are we at preparing students for their futures?

At a conference I recently attended, I heard two jarring statements from Dr. Laurence Steinberg during a keynote that have me thinking a lot about what we call success for students. Here’s what I heard:

“Only 1 of 6 high school students in America say they’ve taken a class that was difficult. Why are we not challenging students in high school? We are not taking advantage of the plastic prefrontal cortex at the optimum time (when it’s strengthened by challenge and novelty).”

“More students need remedial college courses than have taken at least 1 AP course in high school.”

I don’t know about you, but this sure feels like rain on the parade to me. It’s a worthwhile challenge that’s not insurmountable, but this really feels like a kick in the teeth.

I’m still very much in the process of mulling this over, but I wanted to share the ideas that have stuck with me.

I suppose the encouraging thing to remember is this: Our students can rapidly change (hence the claim about their brain plasticity); our work to create change will have a greater impact sooner than we think. Small adjustments on our part, if we leverage them correctly, can have exponentially great impact on those we serve daily.

What can we do better?

What risks are we willing to take?

How long will we wait?

This blog is post #15 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!