May 9, 2016

“Most parents want their children to do well in school, and that usually means getting A’s. They believe that good grades will help guarantee that their children will lead happy, productive, and successful lives. While good grades can be an indication that children will grow up to excel in life as they did in school, it’s far from a guarantee. In fact, straight A’s can actually be a sign that your child isn’t learning what he needs to learn in order to be successful in life.”  (excerpted from “What’s Wrong with Straight A’s?” by Carol Bainbridge)

Particularly at this graduation time of year, I think back to an article I read years ago in the The Washington Post Magazine, “First Person Singular:  Wakefield High teacher and ‘It’s Academic’ coach Scott McKeown.”:

“ .  .  .  Sometimes your straight-A students stink at this because they’re so meticulous.  They have to dot all the I’s.  They’re scared to be wrong, so they’re not pit bulls.  Some of the strongest kids I’ve had are the C kids, just your old-fashioned gentleman’s C’s.  They’ll just watch the History Channel and read whatever they want to read, but they don’t often care at all about grades.  And they don’t care about being wrong every so often.  .  .  .”

 “.  .  .  You need to have a killer instinct.  Smart instinct is good; football instinct is good.  Not every day needs to be ‘Everybody Gets a Trophy Day.’  You need to know what you’re good at and what you need to work on.  That’s what’s so satisfying about ‘It’s Academic.’  . . .  They know at 16 what a lot of kids don’t know:  ‘I’m probably not going to be a movie star.  I’m probably not going to be Super Bowl MVP.  But by God, I’m going to be competitive at what I’m good at.’ .  .  .”

 As parents is it truly helpful to adopt the position:Make straight -A’s’in school so that you will be admitted to a prestigious university — in order that you can, upon graduation, enter a field where large financial rewards await.”

Really?!?  Has that become our society’s prescription for success?

Is a master mechanic not a success?  Is a homeless shelter administrator incapable of being a success?  Is a public school teacher destined to be a loser?

Can a material-filled life of luxury ever compensate for the broken dreams of childhood?

 Make room for our children.  Give them encouragement to pursue their own dreams, even when those dreams may be different than the ones we want them to have.

Help them to achieve their own definition of “success.”

Grades are merely one measure.  There are other equally valid measures of success.

More on Wednesday –  –  –

     — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning  (Mondays & Wednesdays)

 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)