I remember hearing that when my mom and her siblings came home with their school grades, my grandma use to cover the part that had the actual grades, and sign blindly at the bottom where it said parent acknowledgment. She didn’t consider grades an important factor in learning.

portrait-child-hands-57449-largeGrades were invented to evaluate levels in order to deliver more targeted learning. The intention was a positive one. And sure, to a certain extent that still exists, but I would say that by and large grades nowadays are something that parents, kids and teachers take far too serious. Many times grades are a standardized system and is not reflecting the interests and real knowledge level of a child. It is a broad line that we draw, without really caring about what is on the sides, or above or below that line. As long as you reach it (and in some places you are not encouraged to reach above it) that’s the end of the story.

But what about the grey areas? What about students who may score just on that line, but be super interested in one aspect of the subject and be unmotivated and uninterested in the other. Nuances are lost, because we stare ourselves blind at the grade. I am not so audacious as to saying that grades don’t matter at all, I am well aware of their importance for entry to University in most countries, and also of the fact that certain groups in society, which are already discriminated against, to them grades can mean the difference between a higher education, a job, a career or staying at ground level, not being given the chance to excel in life.

As a parent, I am always trying to give my children a real view on life. I would rather give them a bit TMI, rather than too little and leave them oblivious to the world around them. But, in that, I am always cautious as to the language I apply, and the angles I push. We can push our own reality onto them, as if this by default has to be theirs, when in fact they are in a remarkable situation to change all of that. If you say to your child “In life you have to do things you don’t want, that’s just life”, or, “study this since it will give you a good job”, we may be stripping our kids the chance to visualize and create a better situation for themselves. Who says that you need to do something that you don’t enjoy? Why study something you are not interested in which will ultimately lead to a job you are not interested in? You are basically teaching your children to accept status quo, not to challenge, not to create change and most importantly, not to dream.

When we have kids, we put them into the world, hoping they will have a better life than we have, but in that we need to provide the tools for them to make that happen. Sometimes yes, those tools can be materialistic things, and schooling plays a bit part of that, but most commonly it is about guidance and support. Allowing your child time and space to try things and find out what his/her interests are.

However, providing those things can be hard, when your own scars are deep and you feel disappointed with the hand that life has dealt you, but you need to rise above that and embrace the hope that each child entering this life comes with, a better future.