Name: Sherry’s essay “In Praise of the ‘f’ Word”

Name: Olivia Bal

ID: 1172411

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Teacher: Haneen

Writing (1) 233

Section (3)


In response to Mary Sherry’s essay “In
Praise of the ‘f’ Word”

     Every single school around the world faces
serious challenges of teaching a huge number of students efficiently. More
specifically, the students are all different at their ways of thinking, morals,
religions, cultures, and academic abilities (or intelligence). Everything that differs
between students divides them into three categories: distracted/weak students,
attentive/caring ones and the third middle category. Those various individual
differences between students disturb the educational process, and make it
harder for teachers to cope. Many teachers seem to pass students along, even
though, they are not able to read or write well, so that, they’re actually helping
themselves instead of saving the students’ educational life. Instead of passing
them along, it’s a must to motivate them, help them, advise them and even to
force them for the better if it requires that. At present, a lot of 18-year-olds
are graduating with meaningless certificates. What do teachers have to do? How
to encourage the weaker non-focused students to work harder? Is the threat of
failure a perfect motivational tool as Sherry said?

Sherry agrees in “The Praise of the ‘f’ Word” that the flunking strategy can work
perfectly nowadays the way it did in the past, supporting it with her own
experience. The fear of failure will let students manage themselves to do their
best, to pass. However, the fear of failure doesn’t work every time, and the
results are not always the anticipated. 
Failure often leads to one of two conclusions.  Failure can lead to increased frustration, or
it could be the seed needed to grow to produce a great success.

doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Students with strong personalities use
this saying as a motivational push to face their fear of failure. They believe
in what Nietzsche said, and it turned
out right for them. If a student is smart enough and his/her parents are wise
enough, he will use this setback as a turning point to shake things up, to
reset his perspective, to start again with more confidence towards his success.

In many ways, failure is necessary to embark on a new-needed direction. In
other words, failing will teach students a lot: how to be responsible, to
develop important skills which they will call upon time and time again
throughout life. They will know how to adapt, because life doesn’t always go as
planned.  They will also know how to overcome
frustrations, and many other lessons. Still, would weak personalities know how
to manage themselves and benefit from all these advantages?

    What is missed in Sherry’s essay, is that
we can’t generalize her point of view on all the students. Sometimes the threat
of failure works conversely.

A teacher should be aware and prudent when and how to use these kinds of
serious threats in order to achieve the desired results. A teacher should
realize what factors made a student neglect their studies. Many conditions may
play a major role in a student’s life and affect them strongly, such as: a
family break-up, teacher’s impact and/or peer pressure etc.

     A family breakup
attacks a student’s nervous system. Young people feel unprotected, vulnerable, lost
in their doubts. In order not to see the ruins of former happiness they may
leave home, neglect their studies and even choose some sort of criminal acts to
underline their personalities and existence. For example, many such students
try drugs, forbidden beverages, occasional sex, provocative behavior in public
places, dangerous races just to avoid a family drama. Therefore, young people
feel themselves in the labyrinth of their fears, failure and frustration, three
terrific “F”s. Any student may face a family break-up, it’s a common
phenomenon in society. In this case a teacher can’t threaten a student with
failure. In short, a student will have enough to worry about. The teacher must
find another approach to awaken the students, to be able to make actual changes,
to help them get out of chaos.

     On one hand, teachers
use various methods and techniques to motivate their students, to persuade them
to make education a priority. Yet on the other one, teachers may humiliate
students thinking they’re gaining more control over them or frightening them. But no, teachers should never do that.

Teachers must be role models for their students in the future. As for me, I
won’t forget Ms. Maysa, when she embarrassed me in front of the class. She
taught me French literature, and I refused to join the DELF exam for that year.

She was so aggressive and her words were offensive that I stopped studying
French. I left studying French till I met Ms. Mona, another French teacher; she
was so understanding. I was encouraged to study French again after 2 years.

Later on, I passed my DELF exam with honor. Wasting two years without French
was painful for me and unforgivable. Teachers mustn’t give their students
embarrassing haircuts or unwelcomed sarcasm in front of the class.  If a teacher wants to say something they can
have a Tet-a-Tet talk, to keep the conversation private. Such insults may also
lead to failure.  Having an unhealthy fear of failure may leave
students with an emotional scar. It may lead to health concerns, such as:
depression, insomnia, alertness, anxiety, addiction, digestive disorders, and
even committing suicide.


engrossing amount of peer pressure, which disturbs students and also causes
health problems, is yet another factor for neglecting studies.  Peer pressure is common between students, specially teenagers. It
can impact them physically and emotionally, more commonly, in a negative way.

They care about fitting in with peers, they want to integrate for the sake of
being accepted by others. In this manner, bullying is a criticism in a negative
form, included in peer pressure. It has endless consequences, and typically leads to failure.

     On the whole, the threat of failure is a
powerful teaching tool.  It may turn into
a gun in “an unskillful fighter’s hands” with two completely different
outcomes.  One, it either raises the
student to perfection, or two, it makes them relinquish till forever.  Wise teachers with the knowledge of when to
shoot and when to be more understanding and patient is what is required for
astonishing accomplishments. Accordingly, all educational institutions will
graduate fruitful generations.