At our school district, it’s encouraged that 8th graders complete a study plan while enrolling in their freshman year in high school. This maps out their course of study, and ensures they will graduate with all the credits they need for a high school diploma.
In other words, as a 14-year-old, they are asked to pick a major.
I’m exaggerating. But they are supposed to plan their classes through their senior year. I get it…some classes require prerequisites and they want kids to think ahead so they don’t get stuck without enough time to take the required classes.
Isn’t high school for taking classes in several areas? I would guess most eight graders will probably change their mind about their interests in high school.
On the other hand, the curriculum guide if full of cool classes! Fire science, medical classes, education, marketing and communications, engineering, music, art…you name it, it’s there! And many have an option of earning college credit, so there’s a plus too.
But it also is a bit disheartening…it’s hard enough being a kid without all the pressure of academics, sports and life in general.
The ability to check my children’s grades online and the weekly emails from their teachers have made me feel like an enabler and contributed to the possibility of me being helicopter-ish.
It’s true. I like the “real-time” check on how my children are doing, and that I am “in the know” on what they are studying and if they have an upcoming test or not (because they sure don’t tell me.)
But here’s the rub. I get an email from a teacher about a vocabulary quiz on Friday. I feel like I need to ask my child “Did you know you have a quiz on Friday? Did you study? Where are the vocab words?”
In reality, my child should be responsible and pay attention in class and already know this. And he probably did. But if he didn’t, I have just saved him from a bad grade, a possible lesson in reality. Is anyone going to do that for him in college? Is his mommy going to remind him about finals when he is 20 years old? Or that he has that big presentation at work the next morning?
Let’s talk about the online grade card. It’s great. It’s better than only seeing your grade every nine weeks, like back in 1986. I can see every worksheet, quiz, test and project and the final grade. So if my child had an A in math, and then starts getting Ds and Fs on assignments, I will know right away and can talk to him to correct the problem.
On the other hand, shouldn’t my child be accountable and realize he is getting these not-so-great grades and make an effort HIMSELF? Without me telling him?
What if I see that his grades are slipping, but don’t say anything to him? Am I a horrible parent? I would assume he would know – do I just wait until he says something? Let him suffer the consequences? Tough love?
My head would say tough love, my heart would by breaking…
After cleaning his room, I found this pile of medals outside my 12 year old’s room.
“What are these doing here?” I asked him.
“I don’t want them anymore,” he replied.
“You don’t want any of these? Why not?”
“There’s too many…”
This is exactly what I was talking about in this post. By awarding him a medal for “participating,” the medals mean nothing. Some of these medals are for winning, but because he got a medal whether he won or not, those medals are discarded just like the others.
Medals, ribbons and trophies meant something when I was a kid. It meant you performed better than the other kids. It meant you tried your best and was the best. It doesn’t matter if it’s the class spelling bee or a state-wide competition. The point is you worked hard, studied, trained, whatever…to earn that ribbon or medal. Only the select few were awarded them. And you were proud.
Fast forward to 2015: Kids don’t care about those awards because they’ve been taught that just by “participating” or “showing up,” they are deserving of something.
I’m not the only one with the “only winners get medals” mentality. A recent poll said 57 percent of Americans think only winners should be rewarded. But here’s where it gets interesting. When respondents were broken down by age, younger respondents (those 18-24) liked the idea of participation trophies, while the older generations thought the opposite. Is it because that’s how the younger generation grew up? Because that’s what we have taught them?
As I mentioned in my previous post, in the real world a reward for “showing up” or “doing your job” doesn’t exist. Why do we act like it does?