05/16/11 — Teacher's gift: Former music teacher's lesson is one more students should learn

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Teacher's gift: Former music teacher's lesson is one more students should learn

This weekend, students of former Goldsboro High School music teacher George Trautwein will gather together to say thank you and to say goodbye to a man whose influence has stayed with them for decades.

Those who spoke of their teacher say he was tough, that he expected a lot out of his students and pushed them to not settle for anything less than the best they could do. He did not dumb down lessons and he did not accept that his students needed less of a challenge. He pushed them to go for the gold -- and gave them the confidence to achieve it by expecting they would.

There are lots of teachers today who want the same for their students. They do not want to excuse procrastination or to bend the standards just to get the work done and the requirements satisfied.

They want their students to learn that they have a responsibility in their learning and in their futures.

They want to teach the lessons of self-respect, self-motivation and self-confidence that George Trautwein left with his charges decades ago.

Many people talk today about how generations are different -- that what worked in the 1950s and 1960s could not possibly be applicable to a child whose world includes so many distractions, and for some, so little respect for discipline and hard work.

Children have it too easy today, they say, and their parents would much rather see them sail through school than watch them struggle to meet the demands of a first-class education.

And in some cases, that is probably true.

But is it really the children or is it the adults who have not pushed, who have allowed bad attitudes and lackadaisical performance? Rather than setting high standards and expecting our children to achieve them, have some of us lowered the bar to a level that is merely achievable? Have we forgotten the value of realizing that you can do what you set your mind to -- and the thrill of achieving something even you weren't sure you could do?

Why shouldn't we look for more George Trautweins and support them in their efforts to demand more of all our students? Perhaps if we gave students the hard road along with a heaping helping of confidence that they are capable of surprising us, they might do just that.

No more coddling. No more second chances. No more bailing them out when they act irresponsibly when it comes to their education.

That is how you create a culture of achievement.

And that is something we suspect George Trautwein knew all too well.

Published in Editorials on May 16, 2011 10:36 AM