A current trend in education is the push to make every child succeed.  This phenomenon has existed for decades, but it received its jumpstart with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2000.  While the original intention of the legislation was excellent, the uses have been twisted so that every child has the “right” to graduate from high school with high grades regardless of their true potential.  America has lost the freedom to fail—a freedom which we need in order to survive.

I am a future educator but have already done some student teaching in public schools surrounding my university.  I have seen firsthand the effects of students who were fed dumb-downed material.  Because the material did not challenge them, they felt no sense of accomplishment and did not try.  Many of them still received low grades which had to be curved in order for them to pass at the end of the year.  I was sickened by the apathy of the students.  We are not teaching our children to fight for anything.  We are teaching them that because they are born they have a “right” to the American dream.  With the loss of the freedom to fail, there is no American dream.  Half of the dream is the sense of pride in accomplishment once that goal is attained.  If we take away failure then there is no incentive to try harder.  There is no shame in doing one’s best.  There is no shame in failing if one tried his best doing it.  However, we should all feel shame by giving passing grades to people who do not deserve them.

In Marano’s book, A Nation of Wimps, she addresses the critical issue of raising children who do not understand what it is to do one’s best.  She approaches the issue by examining praise for talent versus praise for trying.  Her research proved that the children who were praised for trying their best outworked the children who were praised on ability alone.  Without failure we lose the work ethic which has made this nation great.

If we continue on this present course of passing every child in education, how will they survive in college?  Where will the physicists, mathematicians, and researchers come from?  Our nation will be easy prey for conquest, because we will not have proved ourselves and have no backbone for persevering through the hard times ahead.  We need the freedom to fail.

– Hannah S. Bowers


Marano, H. E. (2008). A nation of wimps: the high cost of invasive parenting. New York:  Crown Archetype.