Caveat: Perfectionism; Perception

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 here are some students who know so much more than we give them credit for. 

Some of the teachers were sitting around earlier, in the staff room, and Curt and JJ and I were trying to puzzle out why it was that a certain student had quit the hagwon – her mother had apparently said that she was most dissatisfied with the debate class.  My debate class, which is my hugest, most innovative undertaking, so far, at Karma Academy.  Well, we didn't really reach a conclusion – but I didn't feel on the defensive about somehow having been the one to "cause" her to leave the program.  It wasn't that sort of conversation – it was just wondering what might have left the student in question unhappy with it.

Anyway, some time later one of my students from that same class came into the staff room.  She was clearly bored, and on the prowl for some kind of distraction.  I was on a free period, and her cohort hadn't started yet, so she was killing time.  These students from the debate class are pretty advanced, and we can have interesting and wide-ranging conversations.  She told me that lately she was doing more homeowrk.

"I do homework when my life is boring," she explained.  "Then when my life is interesting, I don't study.  So my grades go up and down."  She made a rocking wave motion with her hand.

This struck me as a brilliant bit of self-analysis.  She's a very insightful student, I thought.  Somewhat in passing, I mentioned the student who had left the program that we'd been talking about earlier.

She said it was obvious why the other girl didn't like the debate class:  "She was a little bit too proud of herself.  She saw in that class that she couldn't be the top student, so she didn't like it."  I was stunned with how succinct and perceptive (and brutally honest) this was, as it jibed well with my much less clear hunches as to what had left her unhappy with the class.

There is a certain type of perfectionism that brooks no true competition – I can speak of this with some depth of undestanding, as I have perhaps been guilty of it myself, as some points in my life.