At a soccer meeting about a year ago, some sage coach told us, the parents, the following. “If a soccer team is losing 90% of their games, someone is doing something wrong. If a soccer team is winning 90% of their games, someone is doing something wrong.”
You see, kids who are going to get better at something, kids who are going to maximize what they become in any context, they have to be challenged. They have to be reaching for something more all the time. In order to become great, and brilliant, and willing to fail, kids have to be faced regularly with things they can’t quite do yet.
I’ve been blessed with incredibly smart kids, and a wife who has always challenged them. Sometimes, we’ve been blessed as a family with amazing teachers, too. (See Gilliland, Reneta or Drury, Megan.) If you have any doubt about the impact these teachers can have, just go watch Oakley tell you about it; the child still knows she’ll be a writer someday because of 1st grade.
One of my cues that things aren’t going quite right in a classroom is if my child is coming home with papers that all say “100%” on them. I want my kids to be learning so much that they can’t quite keep up with it. Similarly, I want my whole soccer team to be playing just beyond their edge of control, always faster and crazier. (I will spare you a rant on the fact that grades in Williamson County are based on a fixed percentage scale. 94 – 100 is an A, for example. Doesn’t a scale like that really assess the teacher’s ability to create a test that slots people appropriately?)
That said, let me present you with Lindy Martin, and her magical kindergarten teacher, Miss Choate. When we learned that Lindy wouldn’t have the honor of following in Oakley’s kindergarten footsteps with Ms. Gilliland, we were a little bit heartbroken. You see, Oakley’s kindergarten experience was fantastic. We managed, though, to keep our mouths shut and see how it went. And oh, how it’s gone. Lindy was sad to learn, yesterday, that this school year has only 9 weeks left in it.
Last night, she shared with us this nugget (mostly verbatim). “You know, I’m always around great teachers. Daddy is a great soccer teacher, and Mommy used to be a real teacher.” Of course, she didn’t even have to say a thing about where she spends her days.
As proof, I’ll share the work that Lindy brought home with her from school yesterday. Mind you, Lindy didn’t know how to read or write when she started kindergarten. We read to our kids every day, but we don’t teach them this stuff. We leave that to the school, and the right time. As you read it, check out how Lindy’s living on the edge here. It’s clear that she isn’t copying something off the board, or asking for help with every word. She’s pushing it all the time.
Lindy’s words, verbatim.
He fotoh in the Revolutionary War. He is on the Quarter and Dollar Bill. He is the Father of our Conuntry. We love him. I love him! He war a wig. He was very nice. He was a good led ere. he worked hard.
Thanks a million, Miss Choate. Maybe you’re the one who deserves 100%.