What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
It tends to be common knowledge that Albert Einstein was bad at school, but less known is that he was also bad in school. Einstein not only received failing grades—a problem for which he was often summoned to the headmaster’s office—but he also had a bad attitude...And yet, he grew up to become one of the greatest thinkers in human history.
One can write off Einstein’s accomplishments as an exception to the rule; they can reason that his behavior was actually a symptom of being so smart that school didn’t challenge him, which is probably somewhat true. But what if what made Einstein a change agent was his rebellious nature rather than his intelligence?
Teachers can create strengths-focused classrooms that help students like the class clowns and the rebels see the value in their gifts and reframe them positively, rather than seeking negative attention. ...By providing opportunities for young rebels to find positive outlets for rebellion as my current student has with writing and my former one did with drama, they could become assets to society’s institutions, rather than a liability.
Even though the class clown, the snarky kid in the back, and the D-student may create problems for teachers and the school, they often have skills that can’t always be taught. They tend to be courageous, outspoken, persistent, and creative people—kids who may not make great students or become the kind of employees with a “really strong handshake,” but who instead become the kind of people who lead and forge new paths for others.