Will You Make The Grade?

I was having a conversation with my neighbor the other day and we talked about my school years and how I believed that I was dumb.  She commented that no teacher should ever make a child feel dumb and I was quick to defend teachers.  I told her that it was not the teachers but rather the system of grading that made some children feel dumb and that really it was an obvious consequence of report cards in a system that compares each child in a generic way and measures them against each other.  For me personally I was an average C student most of the time and other times I was an F, E or whatever but never anything much over C.  It was true that I did not put in the effort required because I was resistant to try at something that was incredibly boring and not tangible to me for living in the real world.  None the less every two or four times a year I got a report card that said “You are a C student, you are average, you are not smart like the A students and you are not as bad as the F students but you are pretty average…………if only you would try harder”.  Well indeed if I only I had tried harder but you see trying harder was trying on my nerves, my patience and on my zest and excitement about life.  I was not a good fit for this academic book work world of school.   

I have friends and family that are so proud of their children in school and the success and grades they have achieved.  I am happy for them that they are happy with the feedback from school that little Jonny is so bright and achieving at his level but it makes me wonder.  Is he better than or is he a better fit than little Billy next door with a C average?  If Billy is bright and amazing with gifts beyond memorizing facts and passing tests will he know his brilliance after those 12 some years in a system that calls him an average student?  Will he get fed up and give up – resort to being average in life?  Will he drop out and then consider himself a “drop out”?  Or will he know his brilliance?  Will he have parents that look beyond the grades and the norm and notice his gifts?  If they do this for him will they be loud enough to snuff out the voices that said he was average or rather a failure?  Who is really succeeding in this?  Who is really failing?  Why are our children so deeply immersed in this system that has such a narrow view on what it means to live a good life? 

I also have a friend who was an A student always.  She went on to get a University Degree in Biochemistry and has an amazing career as a pharmaceutical representative.  She has a cool job and successful life but a deep sense of sadness about how misunderstood she is by her parents.  In our twenties we were good friends and she told me that her parents viewed her as a trophy and that they did not know her at all – just her grades, success story and sport achievements.  I thought this odd but then had the eye opening experience of enjoying a brunch with her parents and another couple (her parent’s friends).  Her mother talked about her non stop “Jenny did this, Jenny did that, Jenny got these grade, and then Jenny accomplished this too”.  At first it was nice conversation – regular parent pride and sharing but it did not stop.  Jenny made efforts to change the subject and bring the focus to me but I was not the star and Jenny was.  I understood then what it can be like to be an A student – not really any better and just another label that disregards the being in human beings. 

My children are not graded because I home school them and I have the choice to turn my back on this tradition.  They are stars for being alive and I know that the success they will have in this life will be motivated by joy and genuine interest.  They just are not average, not excellent, not A, B, C, or D but just people with interests, passions and a multitude of different aptitudes.  Will they be limited by this not knowing how they measure up?  Some think so indeed.  Will they never work hard if not for the motivation of a carrot – in this case a high mark? Some think not.  I am not afraid for them and I know they have a gift far beyond anything tangible.  They have the gift of confidence to forge their own path – create their own life and a life of passion for what interests them .  They have no sense of lack for not being what they are not – they only have to be good at what they are good at.  What would that have been like for you?

 

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~ by Nicole on July 7, 2012.

One Response to “Will You Make The Grade?”

  1. […] read an interesting post this evening. It was the first time in ages I’ve had time to read anyone else’s blog […]

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