I was struck by a blog post I read on Saturday morning about recognizing some limits and ensuring the appropriate ones are pushed for growth. Author and businessman Seth Godin’s blog post entitled False Limits, reflects on the detrimental effects of false limits.
He writes, “The false limits, the ones that others put on us, those can be a real problem. Even when the limiter means well- they’re often trying to save us from heartbreak or wasted effort- those limits can become a habit, not something useful.”
As educators we are privileged to be able to work with students young and old, and guide them in their learning and growth. At the same time, we have a huge responsibility to ensure that we aren’t putting false limits on them.
When I consider limits that educators put on students, I think of potential assumptions they might make as a result of students’ past performances: a student may not have demonstrated strength in a particular subject, they may have an unbridled energy that appears to deter their focus and learning, or they may be achieving strong results and thus are perceived to not need a push. If an educator chooses to ‘see’ students as defined by past performance, they are, indeed, setting false limits.
Exceptional educators see beyond ‘labels,’ and, in fact, work hard to negate them in other educators and- more importantly- in the students themselves. When good teachers help students resist false limits, they give those students power. They foster possibility and belief in students that, with hard work, the students can succeed.
Godin writes, “If you are trusting someone to teach you to make things happen, it helps if they believe it’s possible. That you’re capable of bringing your best self to a problem and doing the difficult work of solving it.”