The student exceeds the teacher…

Recently my daughter was admitted to the National Honor Society (NHS). It’s awarded to students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character–so its not just an academic award. You have to apply and all that. And yes, this was absolutely a moment for me to be super proud of her, but it also pointed out something for me as a teacher.

I think I got this idea  from Japanese culture, if I remember correctly. It’s the idea that the best success in teaching is where the students achievements exceed their teachers.

And, with my daughter receiving the NHS award, it is so clearly something that I was never capable of that it’s just awe-inspiring for me. I was an okay student and all; maybe smart at times. But I never worked nearly as hard as she does with her schoolwork. And this, to me, has made all the difference for Hannah.

The learning for me as a teacher is that, somewhere along the line, Hannah got the skills she needed to teach herself. So we as parents weren’t just teaching her how to do tasks, or things–intentionally or not. We were teaching something more than that–Hannah was being taught how to teach herself. Intentionally or not, that’s what has happened.

And that’s the only way, in my opinion, that something like this can be achieved. Hannah has exceeded her parents so much in some of the qualities that led to her receiving this award that it’s not even funny. (Case in point: I may have been a hard worker that could lead by my example, but I didn’t have nearly the leadership skills she has at this age–I’m not 100% sure I have them now, as a matter of fact.) 😉

Yes, there was a whole village to help her achieve something like this— great teachers at her school, great role models in her extended family: let’s give credit where credit is due. I’m just trying represent the parent point of view here.

So the big idea for me here is teaching big picture–teaching folks how to teach themselves. Because that’s the only way that your students can achieve more than you ever will. And it’s the ultimate goal of all teaching; or, maybe I should say it should be the goal of all great teaching. This applies to everything–academics, leadership, drumming. Everything.

And it all starts with teaching them how to teach themselves, to figure it out for themselves…HOW you do that, well that’s the big question isn’t it? My sense is that it’s different for every student (at least a little bit–especially the part where the student needs to be inspired), but that’s a subject for another post. There’s definitely enough material in that question for a whole book…or three.

Where are the areas in your life where you feel equipped to teach yourself? Have you ever tried to do this through teaching or mentoring another person? It can be incredibly hard work, but it’s worth it. For me, there’s nothing that is worth more…but I’m biased; I’m a teacher. 😉


P.S. Check out the below pic for the paragraph of introduction that Hannah received when she was inducted into the NHS at a school ceremony. A total proud and amazed dad moment for me reading that there 😉



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