Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Wobbly A’s

I spent the better part of today at two separate "Awards Assemblies." One for my first grader and one for my third grader. For K-2, these things always have a certain insufferable quality to them--partly because the "awards" mean so little (it’s understood that every kid will "eventually" get one and one teacher doesn’t even bother with the pretense . . . she just gives them out in alphabetical order!) and partly because some parents persist in the belief that they mean everything. Still, one is expected to attend and, because the expectation is coming from those ones whose expectations matter most to me (i.e., my kids), I go.

For the third graders, however, things become a little more serious. In third grade they start to get real "grades" (i.e., A,B,C as opposed to "proficient" and "needs improvement") and the question of honor roll and the various gradations thereof start to hold some real meaning. At least the honors are not doled out to everyone because they are "special" and can fog up a mirror. My daughter, to her surprise (because she did not know that such a thing existed before today) made honor roll. But she did not make the "President’s Honor Roll" because she did not have straight A’s. (It appears that the child has inherited her mother’s math gene. I won’t even tell you what happened when I tried to correct her word problems one evening!)

Still, on the way home from school today, I was explaining to her that I was very proud of what she did accomplish and that straight A’s--though certainly a worthy goal--are not as important to me as she may imagine. I was more proud, I said, that she had been chosen from the whole class as one of handful who consistently demonstrate good behavior at school. She had done much more than fog up a mirror in school this quarter; she had done her best and that’s all a mother can ever ask. "Yeah . . ." piped up my son (the first grader), "Don’t worry about straight A’s. Wobbly A’s are still good!" And when they are bought at the price she paid for them, they certainly are. Good for you kiddo!

Discussions - 5 Comments

Congratulations, Mom. The wobbly "A's" you describe indicate a strong work ethic and that is usually taught. Good work.

Thanks Kate. But the honor is all hers. My reward is her joy. But I am curious . . . do you detect a bit of subversive genius in the teacher who doles out the awards in alphabetical order? Many parents were annoyed by this as it too obviously made the awards seem less than important. But I thought that was rather the point. That teacher has the reputation of being more demanding than most, so I thought perhaps she was engaging in some kind of "passive-aggressive" (as we like to put it these days) defense of the old order. I would recommend this method to any teacher who feels trapped by the new order of the "special."

Yes, that is interesting. For a couple of years my sons went to a little school that gave awards to everyone. My oldest earned awards for reading, but my next youngest boy "earned" the award, a plaque, for "love." He was profoundly embarrassed. He would have rather won for "fiercest" or anything else - "brownest hair" would have done. The abstract concept awards were given to several students at once, being catch-all categories for the desperate teachers, so he was not alone on stage. Unfortunately, the only others who won for "love" were female. I asked the teacher and found that he had won for not slaughtering the class bully who targeted my son more than most. I shouldn't have told him. The next week he was in the principal's office for fighting back. He took the swat without complaint. He was a great kid. The next year I began home schooling.

On the contrary . . . it is wonderful that you did tell him! That award (and the shame he rightly felt in getting it) may have done more for him than the teacher imagined . . . I hope you praised him for fighting back and redeeming himself (and for not complaining about the swat!) . . . a swat?! I take it this was some time ago!

That happened twenty years ago in a little Christian school. I did praise him for fighting back and for his stoic acceptance of the consequences for breaking the school rules. The other kid had thrown a basketball in Frank's face when the gym teacher's back was turned. The other kid lied, my kid told the truth. As I said, the next year we began home schooling. This wasn't the only reason, but it helped.

He has become a very good man. The love plaque is around here somewhere. Who could throw such a thing away?

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