05 June, 2010

Expect perfection

A little girl played Il Silencio, and I thought I was hearing the sound of heaven.  I have never heard such a young girl play a trumpet before.  And to have heard it played so perfectly!  And by a thirteen year old!

She held me spellbound.  I hope she did you too.  Her name is Melissa Vernema and she is playing with Maestro Andre Rieu in Maastricht in the Netherlands.  City officials are said to have sealed off the town square and closed everything down to achieve perfect noise control.
The real point of this post is that it is quite wrong for us adults to assume that the youth of today are all wasters.  I know one or two young Anguillians who put in a similar effort into their activities, and have the high degree of talent shown here.  The question is how do we get more young people to strive to excel?  The answer, it appears, is to expect more of them, to demand more, to never accept second grade.  I know the child psychologists do not approve.  It does not help with the late achievers and the slow starters.  Well, I am sorry, accepting low scores from those who can do better is not good enough if we want to raise their standards.
Victor Frankl said it better than I ever can as far back as the year 1972.

I like the idea of always overestimating the abilities of my students.  I like the idea of not accepting that they will not, cannot, achieve at the highest level.  For the future, I want to see my students surprise all around them with how much they can learn, and how well they can express it when asked.

A propos of nothing, this is the best rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus that I have ever seen and heard.  Sorry for those who don’t like their Handel being messed with.

My High School was at a Benedictine Monk monastery in Trinidad, but we would never have been able to do something as excellent as the Winter Park High School did.


  1. The video of Victor Frankl was so inspiring I spend most of the morning Google-ing and watching more interviews of Victor Franklin. The right medicine for the burnt out state I'm in at the end of a school year. Next year we will help the students fly crab-style, low-flyers and late-starters included. Thank you for the link.

  2. That's the spirit, Don! If we believe in the youth of today, then it is more likely they will believe in themselves. Nothing kills spirit and ambition like negativity.

  3. Nothing kills negativity and ignorance like spirit and ambition! ;) - Scotty

  4. If I might add to the excellent comments already recorded, Robert Browning in his dramatic monologue in praise of Andrea Del Sarto, the “Perfect” Painter, also encourages us to set goals to

    “… strive to do, and agonize to do,
    And fail in doing.
    Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp
    Or what’s a heaven for? …”

    In a somewhat similar vein, my ramshackle old Grammar School may have been in dire need of physical upgrading, but the educational mission embodied in its motto, Aut optimum aut nihil (Either the best or nothing) could not have been bettered.

  5. Thanks so much for the blog on Melissa Venema. Very impressive and inspiring.

    Possibly you have the link below, but if not I hope you find it enjoyable.

    Melissa Venema


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