“This is awesome,” said her mom.
“No!” she argued adamantly. “I got one wrong.”
The conversation took me back to when one of my other daughters could not accept anything less than 100% on any homework or test. She would fight for every single point with unparalleled passion. It wasn’t until fourth grade she finally got a B on anything and tears flowing like a dam, exploded. She was totally and completely crushed. This need to be first and at the top of her class followed her all through college.
When I was in elementary school, my goal was to get my homework finished and not fail any tests! As I reached middle school, I absolutely had my weaknesses and remember feeling awkward because I wasn’t as “smart” as some of the other girls in my class. By the time I reached high school, I had much more confidence and had grades comparable with my peers!
But I’m not sure I felt like I was “competing” with other students. Even then, mostly I just wanted to get a good grade, along with understanding what I was learning. It wasn’t about outdoing my neighbor! In ninth grade, however, a fellow student and I had this ongoing “friendly” competition in one class, where we both did very well. Tom, in my estimation, was smarter than I on all counts. But in this one class, there were times when I did better than he on a test. We created the “most interesting question” for all our peers, after a test! “Which one of you got the higher grade on this one?”
Our children in today’s classroom are pushed at every turn to do their best; academically, athletically and socially, not only by their teachers, but their parents. While we should expect our children to work at their best, the pressure of pushing them in a type of “competition” with every other student in their class, can place unfair anxiety on them.
Economics is a huge factor in parents wanting their child/ren to do well. The logic is if our children can attain the top of their class, then college choices can be configured around the “best” ones available. The better academically, the more likely a scholarship will be available and less funds necessary to borrow and then repay!
Education should be challenging, but also engaging. The system seems to compel each student to do their best, but to excel on the “test” which means more funding for the school. It isn't about the student anymore or about what they are learning, but rather ways to influence politicians!
That’s sad. Getting an education for “someone or something else” is wrong and doesn’t benefit the student nearly as much as learning for the sake of learning! Students are so “spent” and stressed with the structure of testing, they don’t enjoy the wonder of gaining wisdom in any form!
So I challenge you, to engage your child in discussion about how he/she feels about education and what they are learning. Encourage them to share their feelings once school has restarted and inspire them to find something they are really interested in, for themselves. Acquiring knowledge in this way is satisfying and rejuvenates the wonder of learning!