Lighting A Fire

Have you heard the phrase “We need to light a fire under so and so…”?

It means to ‘urge or goad to action’, or to ‘encourage someone to work better or harder’. Another word that comes to mind is to MOTIVATE.


Motivate is a pretty positive term. Synonyms include words like stimulate, galvanize, inspire, and spark!

When I think of the job of a teacher, the above words are perfect for describing their role. As teachers, they are inspiring the learning process, encouraging our kids to succeed, provoking their desire to learn and engage.

Antonyms of the word motivate are pretty depressing – terms like repress, dissuade, dishearten, dull.

These are things we would never include to describe the role of a teacher!

I love hearing that my child’s teachers are having conversations with him to ‘light a fire’ about this or that. But when that conversation isn’t about inspiring or exciting him to do/be better, but instead he is discouraged and disheartened then I have a problem.

The problem becomes even bigger when they point to something he has NO control over as reason why he can’t/shouldn’t succeed.

I’m ok with telling my child his organizational skills (or lack thereof) will make middle school hard. I’m ok with telling my child that he’ll have to study and work harder in middle school.

But telling him that he should stay in 5th grade another year partly because he’s too small and another year will give him time to grow so he’s bigger and won’t be bullied?

Seriously? Did you seriously tell my son that? And let him go back in to class? To sit and think about that?

You really just taught him a lesson that if you are smaller than everyone you won’t succeed in a higher grade. And that you’ll be picked on. Seriously?

You really just taught him that he will potentially be held back from doing things in life because he inherited ‘short’ genes from his ancestors? Seriously?

If that is how you motivate and ‘light a fire’ under a 10 year old in this day and age I feel sorry for you.

I feel sorry for your narrow-minded view of the world. I feel sorry for the other kids in class and what you might have said to ‘motivate’ them.

But honestly?

Mostly I feel sad that I had to dry my child’s tears. I had to tell him that being small and short doesn’t mean he isn’t smart. And that his size is not a factor in moving up to middle school. That small does not mean diminished. It doesn’t mean lesser. It doesn’t give anyone the right to bully you. Even a teacher.

Wait – strike that. ESPECIALLY a teacher!

So SHAME ON YOU for bullying my child in an attempt to ‘light a fire’ underneath him. Your brand of motivation sucks.

Maybe you should apologize to my son for hinting that his size would hold him back. I’ll even help. Here’s a great post about Famous Short People you could start with.

Small but mighty!

About Nana

Mom. Salesforce Architect. Runner. Artist. Writer. I am a Salesforce MVP Hall of Fame member. For more information on the Salesforce MVP community, visit: . Salesforce, Force,, Chatter, and others are trademarks of, inc. and are used here with permission.
This entry was posted in The Joy of Parenting, The Middleton, Thrice Exceptional and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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