Before I heard the term “call to greatness” in coaching and new age circles, I had the good fortune to have an eighth grade teacher who was a master practitioner of the call to greatness. Part of his personal myth (probably true) was that his father had worked with Albert Einstein and that his childhood conversations with “the smartest man who ever lived” had served as part of his inspiration to become a math teacher.
He introduced to his honors algebra class an exercise he called the Test-a-Day-Experiment, “TADE” for short. Every class begun with a short test. Sometimes it was a mundane pop quiz on material covered the previous week. Other times, he would pick a topic in mathematics that would not be covered until several months later. We were pushed to deduce our way to answers as a foundation for deep understanding when the material was presented in the future. Then there were the days when Mr. Paige got creative, and the test would consist of a single question such as, “Which is warmer, love or a blanket?”
Every day that we entered that cozy room, which was washed in sunlight and smelled of the old wooden cabinets, we left “school” and joined timeless community of intellectual playmates whose members included the legendary Einstein.
With teachers like that, is it any wonder that I never developed a particular focus on grades?!