There are certain things our parents told us as kids that still don’t make much sense. My mom told me I needed to go to school to get an education. School was always important to her and I knew it. I’d much rather my mom be angry than disappointed. As an adult, I have come to understand the value of education. I’m still a little cloudy on how you get it. How exactly does one “get an education?” Can you buy it? Can someone give it to you? Do you have to steal it? Kids ask themselves these questions at the start of every school year. They don’t ask us. They’re afraid we’ll get mad. Honestly, we’re repeating the same nonsense many of our parents told us on first days of school like today.
We’re far more specific when we contradict our kid’s coach. “No, Coach _________ doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This is where you stand to turn a double-play. I should know. I was All-State at second base three years in a row.” Sound familiar? No? OK, I’ll move on. We obviously want our kids to be successful in school, but we use generalities too much. If you ask just about any random kid why they go to school, you’ll get this response. “To learn.” Learn what? I could learn one of two things in second hour math – the Pythagorean Theorem or the cute girl’s number three rows over from me. Be more specific. No football coach ever just tells his team to go out and score. He tells them what play to run and who’s supposed to be where. If they execute the play properly, they probably score. In any case, the coach doesn’t leave success to interpretation.
We’ll stay with football as a theme. Think of your child’s teachers as coaches. Every coach has a system. Players must learn the system and execute it to the best of their abilities. Take Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. Both men have won multiple Super Bowls as coaches. Both men have different systems. Parcells’ teams ran the football and beat you up on defense. They only threw the ball in high-percentage situations. Conversely, Belichick’s teams throw the ball on almost every down. The running back is merely a place-holder. Your child’s teachers are the same way. A kid can be successful in any teacher’s class if he or she learns and masters the system. It took me until graduate school to figure this out. I used to think my raw intelligence would get me through. This made for some tough semesters. Some athletes think this way with regard to their talent. And how many athletes really make it on raw talent alone?
Find out the teacher’s system. High schools and many middle schools require teachers to produce a syllabus. It’s all there – course topics, how many tests/quizzes, due dates, grading scale, late homework policy, and so on. For elementary kids, it’s even better. The teachers tell you to your face at open house. “We expect Solomon to read five chapter books by the end of the quarter. Here’s the list he has to choose from.” Challenge your child to make the honor roll. You have all the confidence in the world he can make the select basketball team if he works on his dribble. He can make the honor roll too if he sharpens his computation in math and his decoding skills in reading. Remember that success is abstract and achievement is specific. Help your children achieve their goals on and off the field this school year. Until next time…
Be a Good Sport!