I used to think it was important for my kids to get good grades. What do good grades mean? All A’s Maybe a B thrown in here or there. I believed good grades equaled success in school. Well, that’s not necessarily true. Doing your best, and if that best is a C, then that equals success everywhere.
What I really think is every student should start out with an A in class and then have to keep it. If they believe they’re already good at the subject odds are they’ll rise to the occasion. Have you ever seen that movie Stand and Deliver starring Edward James Olmos? I love that movie. Why? Because a math teacher gets assigned to teach the “slow” kids. The kids the school decided, probably based on grades, these kids weren’t going to amount to much. (Okay, they also lived in a poor community. That didn’t help their case either.) But their teacher, (played by Olmos) says, “I’m going to teach them Calculus and they will take the AP exam.” Everyone thought he was nuts, but you know what? He did it. And those kids did it! And every year after that more and more kids took that AP exam and passed. The moral: believe in yourself and the grades will follow. It shouldn’t be the other way around.
In the grand scheme of life, what Noodge 2 gets in 6th grade science doesn’t matter. I don’t remember what I got in 6th grade science. I barely remember taking a science class. But you might be saying, “Stacey, good grades in middle school mean my child will be in the advanced classes in high school.” Here’s the hard fact: if your child’s best is a C in any given subject then in high school they shouldn’t be in that advanced class. Simple. Sorry. I know people who hire tutors so their child can be in the high school AP class. That child doesn’t belong in that class if they can’t get the grades by themselves.
“But what about college? If they aren’t in enough AP classes they won’t get into a good college.” I am quite certain there is a college out there for every student who wishes to go. And the real hard truth is, unless you’re going to an Ivy League school, it doesn’t matter which college you go to. Why? Because what you do with your life after college is what really matters. In other words, if you get a 4.0 in college, but you sit on your lazy butt, eating Cheetos in your mother’s basement who cares what grades you got in college. Do you know what was an eye opener for me? On all my job interviews shortly after I graduated college not one person asked to see my transcripts! I kept thinking, but don’t you want to see my wonderful grades? The answer: A BIG FAT NO! It didn’t matter and that was the simple truth.
I tell this story all the time, but I’m going to tell it again. My friend’s mother sat in a meeting with her son’s guidance counselor waiting to hear the status of her son’s success in school. Guidance Counselor, “Someone has to be the garbage man.” That young man is now a full blown adult with teenagers of his own and he is a biochemical engineer. I bet he got a C in 6th grade science. Maybe even a C in high school chemistry. Who knows and who cares?
Let me give you one more. I know someone who was kicked out of college because their grades weren’t good enough. Kicked out. Told not to come back until you attend the community college and get better grades. That person is a teacher today. What have we learned so far? Grades don’t matter. It’s what you do after that counts.
I no longer care what grades my kids get in school. I expect them to do their best all the time. No slacking. If the best is an A, then I’d better see an A. If the best is a C, so be it. There’s always next year or the year after that.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. If you comment, I promise to give you an A.