Educators are asked to leave no child behind by federal mandates. In essence, we are asked to run a perfect school. That’s some goal.

It also may be a debilitating one. Instead of an organic, dynamic workplace for staff and students, there’s a real chance the school will become immobile, rule-bound, ossified, rigid.

The more comfortable you become with a path you’ve already begun, the less chance there is for exploration of alternatives. A well worn path is a clear path. Paved by the pounding feet of those who have gone before, such roads lead efficiently to the selected destination. Sounds good?

The problem is that one selected destination isn’t appropriate for everyone. One job that represents success, CEO of a corporation, is an example. All of us cannot be the head of General Motors. Recent events even tell us that might not be the best job for anybody.

Fear of failure helps adults to lock onto habits which their personal experience has validated. We like “what works”. We develop patterns of behavior. We repeat, refine, repeat, refine, repeat, and effectively relax. The more things we can relegate to routine habitual behavior, the more efficient we become…but is that perfection?

Do we teach our students avoidance?
Avoid making mistakes. Avoid being different. Avoid standing out. Avoid being too far behind…or ahead.

I’d say that the job of an educator (by extension, a school) is to leave no child behind by offering a support system which allows a child to attempt all sorts of challenges with a safety net. The safety net must be “visible” enough to promote reach beyond one’s past performance level, but “invisible” as well, so that it doesn’t encourage reckless behavior. Children need an environment in which they can fall, stand up, dust off their knees and try again. Children begin their lives expecting to fail at most things until they develop skills through practice. They naturally observe the actions and behavior of those around them, trying to do their best at the tasks which their peers are doing, and try to begin the tasks of those a little older, too.

Schools need to nurture the growth of each child so that he or she steadily expands into a richly educated individual, not a molded clone of the school’s former successes. Each child needs to grow into their own space, not some adult’s preset, predetermined space for them. That isn’t an easy task.

Practice, precision, patterned performance, it becomes predicable, but is it perfection?

Striving for perfection: the tasks of angels in the hands of man.