Friday, October 3, 2014

WHOA!!! 85% can't be bad....or is it?

A response about a recent post on my Facebook page prompted me to pen my thoughts.

A friend of mine was disappointed that I posted my son's grade on Facebook even though it was 85%, which is a C at his school. Her reasoning behind it was that it could embarrass him and make him feel inferior. WHOA...pump those brakes!!! My kid may feel a whole lot of things, but inferior 'aint' one of them! Nevertheless, I understand and respect her point of view and hopefully she feels the same about mine. I don't only want friends who agree with me, I want friends who sometimes disagree also. But damn why should 85% on one test make a kid feel inferior? My reason for posting was to share my bewilderment  of him getting 85% on an open book test. I assumed it would have been an easy A.  Luckily, I did share because I received some awesome advise from my village. One in particular came from my childhood friend, Isele. Her advise was so outstanding that it MUST be shared with my college kids.

The thing that struck my attention the most was my friend's reaction to 85% and the gasp in her voice when I told her that my kids have failed...yes failed quizzes and tests before. I heard this phrase recently 'progress not perfection'... Denzel used it in the movie Equalizer. Boy he sure was amazing in that movie! But I digress. Where was I? O yes failed tests. If my kids fail to prepare, the outcome should reflect that. It doesn't mean that my kids are failures or that my approach fosters mediocrity. It means that they need to be more responsible in their execution and favorable results will emerge. It is my belief that they must learn that on their own with us, the parents, as their guide.

We teach them to be responsible for their actions, both positive and not so positive. Once they're old enough, if they have an issue with a teacher, they must learn to deal with it (with our guidance of course). I remember my older son felt that his Math teacher made a mistake when grading his test in 6th grade. He came home and showed us that she made a mistake. I told him that he needs to go to her so that she could make the correction. Naturally, he was very nervous. He thought that by going to his teacher, he would be considered disrespectful. It's all about the approach. His teacher was very kind to him and made the adjustment.That single act, boosted his confidence. He had similar experiences in HS and College and knew exactly how to handle each situation. My daughter came home from HS one day and expressed how disturbed she was about a teacher snapping his fingers at her to get her attention. She waited until class was over, approached him and respectfully expressed that snapping his fingers at her was disrespectful. He apologized. Also,  if she did poorly on a test, she went to her teachers for guidance which they loved and she would ace the consecutive tests. She understood that her preparation or lack thereof, yielded different results. In the real world, we make mistakes and fail at times. Our kids need to understand that 'progress, not perfection' is what is expected. They must learn at a young age that they will make mistakes and fail at times but should always learn from them.

In the case of my 85% grade kid, he studied, he was prepared and he knew the material but made a 15% error. That's okay too. My friend  taught me that there is a technique to taking open book tests. Perhaps he was relying too heavily on the text rather than his knowledge and couldn't find where the answer would be in the text. Be that as it may, I'm no longer confused. I believe that my kid did the best that he could and that's alright with me. I'm not aiming to raise geniuses (that would be a fruitless exercise on my part since I'm no genius), but I do want my children to do their very best (whatever that might be). I may see them as having the ability to be 'A' students. However, it's not totally about how I see them, but how they see themselves. We love them, empower them, believe in them, let them know daily that we're proud of them and expect great things. We also equip them with tools that enhance their academic, social and emotional progress. My aim is to raise compassionate, empathetic, self motivated, well adjusted, critical thinkers who respect the earth and all species that dwell on it (even spiders). That's my challenge and it's not an easy undertaking. I've missed the mark more times than I care to mention but I've also hit the bull's-eye that many times!  So in the grand scheme of things, that 85% 'aint nothing but a C thing'. I don't take it lightly. I know grades matter in our school system but I'm confident that he knows the information.

It is my hope that parents do not use grades and awards to determine their children's value, success and worth. If your kid feels badly about a grade, that means he knows that he has the ability to do better. Talk with her and offer your advise. If not, talk with your child and perhaps he would express that he did his best or he just didn't like the class or teacher and didn't care (I've heard those before). Talk with your kids, dig a little deeper, listen and help them to navigate a solution. 

As for me, no one can make me feel like 85% is a bad thing and thanks to my friend, I'm no longer perplexed about open book tests. It takes a village and I love and appreciate mine.....even if some are reached only through social media. Be kind, be honest, be supportive and embrace your journey.


  1. Well written!!
    I agree.
    This was a superb example of how trying to succeed and using all your efforts may not yield positive results all the time but to shake it off, regroup and prepare for the next one. That is a valuable lesson indeed!!
    Our eldest feels tremendous pressure to succeed and not disappoint us.

    I blame part of that on his being an oldest and the fact we expect all kids put in their best effort and aim for the best but by all means, but if they miss, I am trying hard to make sure they know they are still valued and appreciated for trying and putting in the effort.

    That counts for a lot too.

    To try and fail is better to never have tried at all, my dad used to tell us all the time growing up.

    So glad to see your eldest also learned confidence from challenging an answer on a test. We had one of those situations too recently and reading your post, I'm thinking of having him as his science teacher if there could be two interpretations to the answer. It's a good exercise in confidence, as you note.

    Finally, I think your friend may be putting undo pressure on her child to bring home all A's and she is making her child feel inadequate or like a failure if he or she brings home an 85%.

    She should consider perhaps adjusting what messages she is sending to him or her and worry less about how you are raising your child, and what you are sharing about him.

    1. on. My gf equates success to grades
      I think her 3 kiddies are pressured but they're prob used to it. Maybe it's because I'm older now but I have no desire to be that mom.

      We taught our kids that there's nothing they could not do. My kids aren't straight A students but fight for every point. Lol. My oldest is very similar to yours. He still feels pressure because he thinks he has to be an example. He suffered a terrible concussion yrs ago and fights thru his deficiencies. I'm excited that he's a 3.1. But the man he's becoming is so much more rewarding. So we make sure we let him know that.

      Let your oldest plead his case woth the Science teacher. Give him the guidance, Empower him and you'll see a difference. I thonk it's the fact that we trust him enough to handle the sit that made Sam gain confidence.

      We should host a mommy forum. I'll sponsor it. Moms need some "real" in their life and support. Let's talk soon....seriously. btw your son will be fine. Keep empowering him. You're an awesome mom. Muah xo. Thx 4 reading

  2. Yes, Yes, Yes! You hit all the major notes with this one. Bravo Nics!