Monday, February 16, 2015

Numbers

There are not many numbers that can make me happy more than the ones my son, Knox, brought home last week.


Many times before he has brought others numbers home but none like these.  The other numbers were not really bad, in fact, they were really good for him.  But in a world that looks more at numbers instead of learning for life, he never had “good” numbers.  


If he could have get numbers for hard work or trying when he really didn't want to try anymore, Knox would have off the chart numbers.  But teachers are not allowed to give those numbers out.  Those numbers don’t show a student's “growth”, just his heart and determination.


I see parents always showing off their children are getting awards because their child’s numbers where the highest.  They talk about how hard they work. They talk of their pride at child’s achievement.


What awards do parents who watch their child struggle to get their numbers up get to show off?  
What awards do parents who watch their child cry over and over because they struggle with concepts that all the other students get easily then after years their child gets barely passing numbers, where is that award for the parent to show off?  


Where are the awards showing a child’s constant determination?  Where are the awards that show how much a student as “grown” in their numbers from year to year?  Where are the awards for students who struggle but keeping working while everyone around them breezes by?


Many argue that high achieving awards give struggling students something to strive for. These awards should, but when the same students are winning them over and over how can a struggling student compete?


Don’t we all want to be recognized for our hard work?  How can numbers show determination, heart and constant will power?  Why do we use numbers that only perceive understanding and not the road to getting there?


Great sports stories are not always the winners, but the ones of overcoming great struggles just to compete.  Those are recognized by writers and the public.  So why can we not recognize students in the same way?


I’m not bashing students who work hard to get great numbers.  These student deserve the recognition they receive.  I want to only point out that we focus so much on the numbers that we forget the road to get there.


Many of these students who bring in wonderful numbers, don’t know what it is like to struggle to the point of tears trying to get out that they understand what they are learning in the language that others can understand.  Many high achievers don’t know what it is like to struggle for years to be able to finally succeed at a test that everyone else has accomplished with no problems.  These high achievers don’t understand what it’s like to see your friends surpass you academically year after year to the point that you see yourself as dumb.


I want us to realize that we need to reevaluate how we acknowledge numbers that students achieve.  We need to look at the whole student and not just numbers.  We want our teachers to do this but we continually have them look only at numbers.  Not all achievement of learning can be measured in numbers.  Heart and determination cannot always be measured with numbers alone.


How do we measure this?  I don’t know.  I’m not saying that every student needs to be given an award of achievement; we just need to remember how to lift students up so that they will have the strength to overcome any weaknesses.


For the one of the first times in Knox’s school career,  my son brought home great numbers last week!


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