Frustration is almost a constant in today’s busy world…no matter what the job, the position, or the role one occupies.  Education is no exception.  In my early career, frustration was mostly present in our Special Education areas or our Title I programs for disadvantaged students.  Nothing frustrated more than not being able to “fix” a learning problem.  We spent countless hours writing individual educational plans (IEP) and meeting with all parties involved in the life of that child; however, often the results were still the same: not much progress was made.

            Today’s frustration is exponentially greater because it has added ADHD and drug addictions to the mix.  Video gaming addiction is also creating atmospheres of frustration among educators.  Now, at least here in Oklahoma, teacher salaries have stagnated for the past five years or so and have caused the threat of a teacher walkout next week.  Needless to say, that event will certainly add to everyone’s level of frustration.

            Personally, I mostly notice frustration when I can’t seem to “reach” a student in my efforts to increase his/her desire to learn.  It seems that desire to be successful in learning new concepts isn’t easy to pass on to others who don’t want to learn.  What do I do when I hit the proverbial “brick wall?”  I gather information from the field of psychology, motivational theory, teaching pedagogy and then, after reading all the latest research I can find, I pray.  Yes, I pray for wisdom and the right decisions in designing a learning path to reach the seemingly “unreachable” child.  Is this method successful?  Yes, and no.  As I have mentioned often in these articles, more than a dozen of my former students have met untimely deaths or horrible living situations.  For others, God has given me strategies that proved very successful.

            Perhaps the best guide I have found over the years is a book by Dr. Sylvia Rimm titled, Underachievement Syndrome (Causes and Cures).  Perhaps the list of student profiles in her book will give you a hint of its content.  The characters are: Hyperactive Harry, Passive Paul, Perfectionist Pearl, Jock Jack and Dramatic Dick, Taunted Terrance, Rebellious Rebecca, Bully Bob, Manipulative Mary, Adopted Annie, Sick Sam, Torn Tommy, Academic Alice, and Creative Chris.

            Dr. Rimm states, “All children, all people, achieve less than they are capable of some of the time.  It is only when underachievement becomes a habitual way of responding in school that it should become a serious concern.”  So, for parents of students in my school who feel their children can cause a great deal of frustration, I have a quick summary of these cases that may be helpful. Just ask me for it.  Everyone could learn a great deal about frustration through the reading of this book.  My copy is from 1988, but it might be found through Alibris or another book locator online.      

-          Kay