Who Are Students?
Many students tell me that they feel pressure to earn perfect grades and lead a life devoid of error. But are grades the only reflection of who we are? I don’t think we are the sum of our GPA plus our SAT score multiplied by 800 and divided by pi. That's not who we are.
A couple of years ago, I read “The Water Giver” by Joan Ryan. Ms Ryan is the parent of a young man whose school life was characterized by behavior problems, ADHD, and less than stellar academic performance. Her main (but not only) focus had been on diagnosing, treating and correcting his problems. Then one day he had a harrowing skateboard accident, spent over 90 days in the hospital undergoing multiple brain surgeries, and began a slow recovery.
In that process, she learns just how much she appreciates all of the qualities that perhaps she had minimized in the past: Ryan’s loving nature, his sense of humor, his ability to create things with his hands using only a few tools.
A couple of lines that hit home for me:
“Maybe parents are so busy making money for college tuition, and the kids are so busy making good grades, that families become loving strangers.”
Once Ryan began his road to recovery and returned to school, Joan says, “I rarely looked at his grades. They didn’t matter. The progress I wanted to see was in self-confidence, in the ability to research and organize, the willingness to try again when he failed, the ability to control his temper and frustration when he didn’t understand something or felt overwhelmed.”
There are a variety of things that you are trying to juggle and balance as you move through adolescence. I hope that students and parents spend some time thinking and talking about them. Please turn off the electronics, brew a cup of tea, and get into some serious face time with each other as you try to figure this out. Parents will benefit from knowing your perspective and will provide important guidance to assist you in making choices that are aligned with your interests, values, aptitudes and ability to maintain balance and joy.
If we are not grades and test scores, who are we? Let's not define ourselves (or our children) narrowly. We are not perfect; we don’t always do exactly what others wish. I think we are the sum of our triumphs, our defeats, our goals, our curiosities, our qualities, our experiences, our values, our willingness to step into the unknown, our ability to empathize and forgive, and our ability to remain open and curious about the path that lies ahead.
“Parenthood is about raising – and celebrating
– the child you have,
not the child you thought you would have.”
Posted 4/2/2018 by Sheila Souder