What are we teaching our next generation?
In my teenage years I did many jobs. I was a waitress in a café, I was a computer trainer in a primary school, I was even a part time tutor for primary school kids. And yesterday, I was just thinking about the time I was in a student’s home, and she had done really well in her recent exams – a few marks short of full marks actually. The mother came home and the child was ecstatic to show off her results. The reaction she got was far from what she (or I for that matter) expected. The mother went into full rage mode and threw the book across the room and picked on the questions the child got wrong, rather than looking at the ones she got right. The mother exclaimed that if she had not made those “silly mistakes” on those questions, she would have gotten full marks.
I was baffled by this outburst. The child, who was only 10 years old at the time, had made such strides in improving on her school work, yet that was not enough. The mother stormed out the room, and the child was, needless to say, in tears. It took me a good half hour to console the child. It dawn on me then that perfection was the ultimate goal. To be successful, you had to be perfect. In every sense of the word. This incident took place many years ago, and here we are today, and sadly nothing much has changed.
Reading the papers, it’s not uncommon to hear about children as young as 12 in therapy or worse, committing suicide for the fear of bringing home less than ideal marks. I read these headlines and ask – what are we doing to our children?
Every child is born different – unique. Each child possesses a unique talent that is his or hers alone.
When I was younger, I was told that school was important, yes, but it wasn’t the be all and end all. I wasn’t told that if I didn’t do well in school that I would be a failure all my life. Instead, my childhood was filled with playing board games and running around in the yard exploring. These days, children’s heads are in the books or in digital devices. Many of these children will grow up not understanding the beauty or even the etiquette of social interaction. And that’s a sad state of affairs for our next generation.
Not every child is born a math whizz or a science prodigy for example. Every child is born different – unique. Each child possesses a unique talent that is his or hers alone. And it’s for us, adults, to see that and nurture that. I’m not here saying that school isn’t necessary. Education is the key to success, yes. But not every child is going to come home with straight A’s on all subjects,…and that’s alright. The child in the start of my story grew up to be a poise young woman who pursued the art of ballet and she was good at it. And now, she teaches ballet to young children inspired to be in the Arts. So just because a child doesn’t do as well as you want them to do in school, doesn’t mean they will fail for life. Success is not determined by the grades you get when you’re 10 or 12 years old, but the values we educate and instill in our children to love, to be kind to one another and to be the best versions of themselves.