Empowered or Entitled?

I am writing to understand my learning…Hopefully, I can work this out through a blog post…

In a recent workshop, I was asked an interesting question that gave me pause.

“Where is the line between a student being empowered or being entitled?”

I could see where there is a perception of this line.  Talking about encouraging students to follow their passions, might also be seen as avoiding some of the “hard work” of school.  In my opinion, there has to be a balance of tapping into students passions in school but also helping them develop skills for later that they might not see as beneficial now.  In some ways, I wished that I would have been pushed to stick with playing piano as a child or learning to speak Greek.  That being said, I do not believe that these things should be taught to every child, hence the reason teaching is such a complicated profession.

Yet here was an example of a fine line that I struggle with in teaching a child to be “entitled”, as opposed to “empowered”. Think about what we are saying to students when we ask for money through “GoFundMe” or something similar for our classrooms or ask for others to retweet something so that our class can win a competition?  This borders on modeling entitlement.  “Give me something because I’ve asked for it.”

Now if you have ever asked for money for your classroom to give your students opportunities that may not exist without that funding, I can fully understand why you would do that.  Every great teacher wants to provide every opportunity they can for their students.

But as I have written before, what if we created something of value to earn that money?  If we asked students, “What would you create to earn this money? What would you sell for?  How would you get the word out to others?”  This is actually quite hard work, but what if you earned furniture through this process? There is ownership over the creation process while entrepreneurial skills are being developed.

I get the question and why it was asked, and to be honest, why it is important to make a distinction.  With all of the talk of “this generation” being entitled, can we add to that inadvertently through some of the things that we do or focus on in schools?

There is a fine line that we need to be aware of. Teaching students the importance of hard work, resiliency, and that even through these things, you may not get what you want, is part of the learning of life, that can help students not only develop as learners but as people.

Copy of wishing you a veryhappy birthday!

Source: George Couros