My students today really frustrated me.  We started a new project.  It is going to be a very challenging project.  It has many sections to it and involves a convergence of several topics that we have covered over the entire year so far.  The project will take about 2 weeks straight and at the end either it works or it doesn’t.  Being the nice teacher I am, of course I will give them some partial credit if, after much trouble shooting, they can’t get their solution to work, but this is a real world problem that doesn’t have a half-correct answer.

I presented the students with the challenge and showed them the solution that I worked on during training.  The project is based off of your birthdate so everyone’s answer will be different.  That means no copying from the smart person, no splitting the work between you and your best friend…its everyone for him (or her) self.  I wasn’t halfway through the explanation when the complaining started.

“I can’t do this.”

“This is too hard.”

“How am I supposed to be able figure this stuff out?”

See, I have a classroom full of underachievers.  These are very bright kids who’ve spent most of their lives cruising on mediocre.  Kids who easily get B’s and don’t see any reason to push themselves to get A’s.  When something comes along that is the slightest bit challenging they shut down and the excuses why they can’t do it start.  Today I wasn’t having it.  I laid into them.

  1.  You don’t how hard this project is (or is not) because I haven’t finished explaining it.
  2. If you begin every project with the mind-set that you can’t do it, then you’re right.
  3. You say “I can’t do it” out of habit before you even give yourself a chance to try.

I think that third point applies to those of us who have spent most of our lifetimes being wimps.

How often do we say “I can’t” or “I won’t” out of habit.  You say you can’t pray in public, but when was the last time you really tried.  Maybe it was scary 5 years ago but you’re a different person now.  When discussions about God pop up do you shy away from the topic because you’ve always shied away from it?  If you’ve done any amount of reading or paying attention at church, you are probably much better informed than you were years or even months ago.

Think of all of the things you habitually say no to or shy away from.  The next time an opportunity comes up, cut off the cruise control and really think about it before you answer.  Who knows, you may surprise yourself!