I oversaw a comment by a parent recently that said something like “my kid is failing school miserably… how can I get her to take it serious?” This is a very common question, one asked across many generations. The full comment was interpreted with a tone of “what measure of discipline and wake-up call will it take to get my kid to perform at standard level?” While I know this may not be the intention or heart behind this commonly asked question, I personally am challenging that stance with my own kids. Because I know that a “thin leash” would not have helped me improve as a student whatsoever. Often, poor grades and under-performance are seen as indicators of a ‘character flaw’ in kids. As if: if they really cared, they would be better students.
Again, this was not the case for me in any way, whatsoever. I was a terrible student, by conventional standards. I took the SAT’s twice, with my highest combined score being a 920 (old scoring system). I retook algebra and biology twice, with D being my highest grade. All the while, I was trying VERY hard, and I cared greatly. Eventually I became ashamed of my inability to perform at expected standards. I blame no one but the educational standards WE have created. Our system expects us, and our kids, to fit in a very small, square box. None of my colleagues would fit in that box. But alas, it’s the standard. I cheated my way through high school and college simply to pass, because I didn’t have the skill or ability (I was capable, just not able at the time). I did the very best I could. I survived.
Much of my 17 schooling years, not counting pre to K, I was facing great odds with trauma, abuse, suicide, ADD, and a square system with a round-shaped brain. Pushing me wouldn’t have created success. Same for my kids. I need to fill the gap WITH them – come alongside them. Not push them to the system’s, or my, standards. I expect them to try their best, but I will be sensitive to the unique obstacles they face. I understand they may learn differently than I do. There is no easy answer, other than PATIENCE. Good grades are meaningless if we break them in the process. It’s a journey, not a report card.
Location: Carbon River Ranger Station