Perfection. It’s the unattainable. It’s what counselors tell children to shy away from. “Nobody’s perfect,” they say, “And who cares (about perfection)?” The answer is, apparently our society. In a world where children face a deluge of information from a variety of sources, the quest to be perfect is omnipresent and never ending. Parents and teachers alike blame image skews on the media. But no one has stopped to examine the institution where children spend the majority of their waking hours: school.
Our venerable school halls are hotbeds of this pressure to be perfect. Adorning school walls are the best art pieces, the A papers, and photographs of the “most involved,” “highest academic achieving,” “sportiest,” and the est-iest students. They earn a place on the wall as a reward for striving to be perfect. Yet the same people who unconsciously uphold this desire for perfection, are the ones publicly trashing the very same idea. How ironic?
Wouldn’t it be cool if students could be applauded for failing then getting back up and improving? What if the art showcase contained before and afters, highlighting the most improved? Even that’s not perfect, but it’s a start.
Along the highways, I’ve often seen warning signs declaring, Caution: Work in Progress. What if schools adopted this mindset? We are works in progress, incomplete, imperfect and amazing. Even if one somehow reaches the status of perfect and achieves the honor of appearing on the hallowed school halls, the journey is still not over. Learning doesn’t stop, and people don’t stop learning (even subconsciously), once they’ve hit this “perfect” bar.
Perfection then is really fickle. Being perfect is truly unattainable, because once a certain level of perfection is reached there’s always more that can be done. So why don’t we keep striving for greatness and realize that perfect is a label we don’t need?
Teachers, parents and all members of the adult persuasion should be awakened to realize that they said it best. “Nobody’s Perfect.” And perfection is irrelevant. We don’t need perfection to be happy and successful. Education should help students be able to stand tall and proudly announce that they are imperfect, constantly learning and above all, a work in progress.
But what if someone were to say, “Sure, Nobody’s Perfect. Does that mean I shouldn’t try?” As a student chock full of raging emotions, this question really speaks to me. Sometimes, it feel like the nicest and simplest thing to do would be to quit. I mean, if you can’t have it why try, right? However, every time my mind drops to this plane, I think back to what my tennis coach once told me. Even if you’re down 1 set and down 0-5 in the second, don’t give up. If you grit your teeth and stick with it, you’ve already won a huge battle. By saying to yourself, I CAN do this, much has already been accomplished. Embodying this can-do attitude, Nike stole the hearts and minds of the world with its tried and true saying, “Just Do it!” And why not? Even if the results and actions seem futile, who knows? Maybe all the effort will pay off and you’ll reach a higher level of greatness. Not perfection, but greater greatness. Don’t let the fact that the mountain has no peak stop you, just keep climbing. And maybe someday, you’ll look down and see how far you’ve come.
Life’s a journey, we’re always improving. So why shouldn’t our schools mimic this? Shouldn’t our schools help us see that perfect is overrated? That hard work and dedication are where it’s at?
When will you start your climb on the journey of a lifetime? It only takes one step to start an adventure. And what are we waiting for? Let’s go get the schools on board. On your mark, get set, GO.
About: As the result of a good and expository education thus far, Tara is passionate about making school a place where all students love learning. She’s a student who loves all things foreign and almost never stops talking. She tweets at @tara_supersub, blogs at itsallaboutthejourney97.wordpress.com and is starting a student-run, student voice education blog