A student who is continually academically challenged is a student who will continuously learn. Good teachers are able to challenge their students just enough so that the students can further expand their knowledge and broaden their education.
It seems that one of the problems of America’s education system is that sometimes, teachers aren’t challenging their students enough. One example is English homework that requires students to fill in missing vocabulary words in prefabricated sentences. Supposedly, the main purpose of the exercise is to teach children about using context clues. But in reality, do most children learn new words by using context clues? Not really. They learn new words by constant repetition and by actively using it. So, a better exercise would have been to make the students write sentences on their own using those vocabulary words.
Teachers who give that type of homework, in which it seems like a no-brainer to complete, are not challenging their students enough. While it seems that a theory such as encouraging the use of context clues seems fine as a theory, it does not work in real life, and shows so in students’ grades and the quality of their work.
Challenging students does not necessarily mean that the students should be taken too much beyond their appropriate level of learning. For example, you may not want to teach a four-year-old how to do calculus. The purpose of challenging a student is to either encourage that student’s learning ability or to expand the knowledge that that student already has. As you can see, the challenge sometimes is in trying to make that learning experience as enjoyable, while a bit more difficult, as possible.
Some teachers may find it within their comfort level to stay within the boundaries that they have set up for their lessons. For example, a basic algebra teacher may not want to go beyond multiplying fractions. However, who does that decision benefit more the teacher or his/her students? A good teacher will do anything to try to further his or her students’ academic experience. The teaching experience should not be about the teacher at all; if the experience is going to be positive, it should be done for the right reasons.
The truth is that continually challenging students will help them develop and broaden their knowledge as much as possible. Without this aspect in education, students are at a disadvantage and will possibly learn less.