After Homeschooling for about 3 years, Yog decided to join school 4 months ago towards the end of the current academic year. Since the first day of school, he has been loving it. The first day of school, he sat through a science assessment. and scored 3.5 out of 5. He was thrilled that he knew most of the answers. Right after he got home, he told me about it with glint of pride in his eyes. I couldn’t help but marvel at how easily he transitioned from a no assessment zone to writing assessments and being proud of them! Two months into the academic year, we were seeing final exams right in the eye. A miscommunication on dates from the school meant that we were holidaying in Goa the exact week before the final exams started. Long story short, we were not sweating it out for the final exams in the required way.
Right after we got back from Goa, I decided it was time to put in some work for the exams. Like a dutiful parent, I assessed his syllabus and planned revision schedules for him for each day. But then, plans are plans and they end up changing. Two exams down, I was inundated with work and family commitments. In-spite of my best intentions, I could not help him revise. He covered his presentations at his own pace and wrote the exams rather confidently even with little preparation under his belt. Well-wishers seemed to be more concerned about his effort (or lack of it) than me. A younger me would have been perplexed but age teaches us to view life from multiple viewpoints. So, in place of getting worked up, I decided to see the whole situation as a wonderful opportunity of Yog learning about himself and learning about how learning is meant to be. I was happy that fate had taken over and decided that Yog should study by himself.
I know he will not get the best of grades, the grades that he could have got, just by putting that extra two hours of effort with me. But I know that he will get the grades that he deserves. And isn’t that what exams are for? Isn’t the purpose of exams to understand where we stand and how we can improve? Also, when we get perfect grades, aren’t we somewhere stating that we cannot do better? What’s the point of getting A’s by studying right before the exams if we have not applied a single skill that we have learnt for the whole year that went behind? In such a context, what’s the point of exams? What’s the point of school? More importantly, what’s the point of learning?
I am so glad that I did not get the chance to work with Yog and he took ownership of his exams on his own. I am so glad that he will not get perfect grades. I am so glad that he will learn he is not a perfect student and there are so many more things he can do better. So yes, I believe imperfect grades are perfect in their own way. As long as, we understand what grades are supposed to mean, I believe, low grades can teach us much more than perfect grades. Let us not aim for those A’s, let us aim for joyful learning that makes sense to our children. If we are learning for the right reasons, any grade is perfect in its own way.
In a world driven by exceeding Customer expectations, I see everyone worrying about their rating. From taxi drivers, beauticians, car servicing technicians, plumbers, retailers, internet operators, everyone is measured on rating. When I get 5 calls from the same vendor to confirm my service rating, I know they are not worried about my satisfaction. They are only concerned about their rating. I hope that my children are never measured on rating cause the work they do is far above and beyond something that can be measured on a numerical scale. The only person measuring their success quotient in life is they themselves. The only person they are competing with is they themselves. And, the only person that can find flaws in their work is they themselves.
This summer we are going to celebrate low Grades with high energy. Will we work harder for our next exams? I think I have learnt not to work hard for exams or for learning. If learning seems too hard, then it just means we are not learning the right way. We are going to spend the summer finding our right way to learn! I hope you do too!