Back to School Musings: Why You Should Deflate Academics
“Wisdom is not a product of schooling, but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”
Sure, the calendar says summer, but the kids in our town are back in school today!
Let the fretting begin!
Will my kid have acceptable handwriting/math skills/test scores?
Will she remember her commas, speak up in class, and finish her homework?
Will he understand the reading material or recall the specifics on the Underground Railroad?
What if they perform below grade level?
Does that mean they won’t have their choice of college?
What if they skip college altogether?
What kind of job will they have? Will they struggle? Will they expect to live at home forever?
Can their third/fifth grade teacher really keep these fears from happening???
It’s easy to get on the fretting crazy train, but, after all, although academics are important, it’s healthy to remember academics aren’t ALL important.
In fact, Billy and I have made a conscious decision NOT to worry about our kids’ school performance. We want them to do their best, but we are avoiding “Tiger” parent behavior.
How? By finding a different lens for viewing their school years.
We believe, ultimately, our children’s character development matters more than their mastery of academics. We believe how our kids perform in the classroom is less important than how they develop socially, how they treat others.
To keep this in mind, we are substituting one common question for another.
Our goal is to stop asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and instead (ignoring grammar rules) start asking, “What do you want to be like?”
The first question prompts ideas such as Fireman, Doctor, Vet, Lego builder, Horse-trainer. All of these are good answers, especially if you want to rationalize the hours spent picking up Lego pieces, but they won’t improve a child’s heart. They don’t point to character building.
The second question prompts deeper thinking and out of their mouths come answers such as, Kind, Funny, Encouraging, Helpful, Thoughtful. This is where we want to spend time. We want our kids to think about who they ARE becoming, not merely HOW they perform.