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Tough Love in Teaching: Failure as Inspiration

Ashley Jaron, a high school history teacher, reflects on her journey from failing US history to teaching it with passion. Discussing her personal failures and recovery, she emphasizes the importance of learning from mistakes and the role of educators in preparing students for future challenges. Ms. Jaron raises her concerns about current educational practices that may not fully equip students for college or careers, advocating for a balance between support and teaching valuable life lessons.


Tough Love in Teaching: Failure as Inspiration

"As a high school student, I didn't care about US history, which is ironic because I teach it now. I failed US history in high school and I tell my students on the first day of school. I want them to know it's not the end of the world if they mess up because I did, and I turned out fine. However, I also emphasize not to mess up intentionally because I've already made those mistakes for them.

I had to retake classes I failed, which meant giving up my free time and paying to retake them. Nowadays, students can attend Saturday school for a few hours, do some assignments, and then ask for a passing grade. This raises concerns about the lesson we're teaching them about effort and consequences.

When I raised this issue with the administration, I was told that we can't have too many failures and that it's not our job to raise the students. However, I believe it's our job to teach them skills that will serve them in school, college, or their careers. I share my own experiences of failing and working hard to recover, emphasizing the value of learning from mistakes.

I worry that by making things too easy, we're not preparing students for the challenges they'll face in higher education or the workforce. Friends who are college professors confirm that many students are arriving unprepared. We need to find a balance between being supportive and ensuring students are ready to face the world, caring about their mental health, financial well-being, and self-pride in their achievements.

I'm grateful to my teachers who were strict about my grades but supportive of me as a person. They knew I could do better and pushed me to achieve more. Similarly, I push my students and hope they'll appreciate the tough love in the long run, even if they don't realize it now."

-Ashley Jaron


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