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ParentingPanicButton » parenting advice, parenting help » The Difference Between Success and Achievement Part 1

The Difference Between Success and Achievement Part 1

It starts during infancy.  We have goals, dreams and expectations for our children in their long journey to adulthood.

We acknowledge their achievements, celebrate their successes and cheer them on.

We are surprised and disappointed when they fall short of our expectations.  We root them on when they meet or exceed them.

We are even sometimes competitive with other parents in comparing and heralding our children’s accomplishments and amazing feats. Some of us even chide and yell at coaches and umpires when we feel they have mistreated or misjudged our young one.

Done in moderation, our approval, encouragement and pride motivate, inspire and take our children to new and exciting levels.  Done in extreme, these things create stress, anxiety, and angst.

In informally polling my own students I have found the following things to be currently eerily true:

1-Many high school students would rather cheat on an assignment or test than disappoint their parents.

2-A majority of students claim they have cheated on a significant paper or exam before. (largely motivated by not wanting to let their parents down)

3-Some high-level, over-achieving students claim they would rather endure incredible physical pain than to get a “C” on anything.

4-Most motivated students are operating on a continual high level of stress, low level of sleep and are tired most, or all of the time.

5-Students are continually more focused on competing for top grades and honors than they are on learning.

What is the problem here?  Where have we gone wrong?  Can it be fixed?

The problem is that we have “success” confused with “achievement”.  We are also less than straightforward about the real purpose of school in the lives of our children.

I see it this way, and when I explain this to my own students, it seems to help them put things more in perspective.

The way I have seen it from memories of my own high school experience, as well as observing and working with thousands of adolescents of the years is this:

1-School is for learning how to learn and academic realities.  We have all had the kind of teacher who inspires us, commands our attention and whom we are willing to work hard for.  We have experienced that magical “aha” moment when actual learning has taken place.  Whether it is epiphany, inspiration or intuited.  These are the magical moments.

2-School is for learning social norms, engagement, skills and compliance.  By compliance, I mean the ability to function, cooperate, get along, make friends, cooperate and in a positive sense “fit in”.

3-School is so much about learning the skills to become a functional, healthy, happy self-supporting adult.  This is gradual, but essential, and every success, and especially failure, and how we handle it makes up this curriculum.  We have all seen the narcissistic result of an adult who has never grown up, often proud to be an eternal “teen”.  This is nothing to be proud of!

4-School is about learning to play “the game”.  Grades, deadlines, reports, group projects, punctuality and accountability are all part of “the game”.  It is a game because, let’s admit it, the student is often working for the points.  We are often working for the money, and not the joy of our job.  Learning to play the game is all about working with others, managing relationships (see relationships article) and dealing with difficult situations.

At my study skills seminars I am up front about this, and it makes it much easier to work with in that manner.



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