I don’t talk about grades in my house because I don’t care about them. I have to remind myself to open report cards and be proud of them. It matters to my kids, so I look at the report cards. But I don’t care…not deep down.
I don’t talk about activities as “resume builders” for college because I don’t really care where (or maybe even if) my children go to college. I am not going to talk about how things “look” for future applications; I don’t care.
I don’t talk about homework because it is usually not relevant. My children do their homework diligently, but I don’t look at it. Are they disciplined because I never rode them about it? I don’t know. Maybe.
It’s not that I don’t want to care; I do. I know it is important for me to acknowledge my children’s academic progress. I work on caring every year.
It’s that I am interested in so much more than grades.
I am reading all of my daughter’s summer reading books on the list and she is expected to read them all, too. She only needs to read one, but ALL of the books are good and ALL should be read. We will discuss and compare.
And we have compared the current political race to Hamilton to find understanding and intersections.
And we have discussed how Trump could rise to power in this country and how fear works and how slavery has led to the Black Lives Matter movement and why it is needed and how Hillary for president is relevant for women AND men and we have begun to gaze at stars and learn their placement and how gravity plays into that and why does the sun burn your skin but the lamp doesn’t…on and on.
I don’t know anything, but I am living proof of how little “education” can mean but how important LEARNING is. I am white and privileged (so I have that on my side), but I didn’t learn anything in middle or high school. I graduated with a fifth grade math level, and I cheated constantly in many of my classes. I did almost no homework and only spent time reading literature and writing papers (and my friend’s papers), and studying and singing opera (the hobby that saved my life). I barely graduated and got into college on a fluke. I wasn’t a bad kid; I was lost and bored and caught in a system that seemed to churn out “types” of kids.
But when I was freed in college to CHOOSE my classes, I lifted off and never looked back. I even took a (easy) chemistry class and got an “A.” I took world religions and (many) philosophy classes. I did not skip one class. Ever. I added more majors. I became obsessed with anthropology. I followed my professors around (well, one I married but that’s another story) to debate the lack of women in literary anthologies. I studied Shakespeare so deeply; I began to dream in his language. I found friends who were brilliant and funny and loved to learn, too. We went to museums and shows and supported each other.
My learning never stopped. I became a teacher (not a great teacher because I mostly liked to laugh and hang out with the kids) and went back to school to become a counselor and then studied to become a certified coach, to then turn around and spend the last four years studying attachment-development theory.
Looking back, I was such a “loser” in middle and high school, true, but I was completely FREED from society’s expectations. My parents wanted me to leave the state and not go to jail. My high school wanted me out and was going to graduate me no matter what. I was not on a track. Lawyer? Scientist? Doctor? Not words associated with my name. So, I am a self-made learner. I am a learner for life, no end in sight. I am as motivated and as smart as anyone on this Earth. My children will be placed into categories by our culture, but not by me.
I am educated now, but it is my love of learning that makes me interesting to some and infuriating to many.
How do YOU demonstrate your love of learning to your kids?
Or was the love of learning almost beaten out of you, too?
As we head into the school year, I want to challenge you to be BRAVE and LOVE LEARNING. Take your laser-focus off the culture-created results, and turn your attention to the love of LEARNING. Let it shine out of you. This is the energy that saved my life (and that my parents did instill in me) and continues to save my life.