Back to School: Taking time to give yourself a gold star

Back to School: Taking time to give yourself a gold star

Yes, you’re right. This is probably one of the first blog posts you’ve read this month about ‘Back to School’ … OK. Maybe not. But, as they say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and it just turns out we do have some reflections on the return to grading, homework, and recess.

First of all, I’d like to share this gem of artwork my grandmother saved (in the process of digging up the driftwood projects from last week we happened to discover a treasure chest of crafty memories). While at first sight anyone can tell this is an exceptionally well thought out drawing, I’d like to talk specifically about the STAR I preemptively gave myself.

I lived for the stars on my papers in school. A check didn’t cut it. A check-minus… well, I don’t think I ever received one, and thank goodness because the world would have ended. But, a STAR was the reason for going to school. Or, unfortunately, that’s what I grew up thinking was the reason for school, and looking back I recognize all of the unnecessary stress I could have avoided at age 8, and the material that I could have actually taken time to understand rather than figure out how we would be tested to get the perfect score.

Was it my parents? No…while they certainly wanted me to do my homework and be a good student – like any other parent – there was no unreasonable pressure for the gold star. If anything, they would ask me to just relax and “be a kid” every once in awhile.

I have to say that I feel like it’s unfortunately the way the school system is set-up. We enter Kindergarten with the creativity and energy and naive beliefs that we all wear gold stars and that’s pretty cool. However, we’re quick to learn that if we don’t color within the lines, we get a check. And that’s less than a star, and it doesn’t really matter if the non-correctly colored paper can be folded into an origami creature… we still just get a check – maybe a check plus.

There are guiding principles, of course. But if there can be some balance between the creative chaos of kids exhibiting and strengthening what it is they are good at with the assignment and goals at hand, then I’d say we’d have the ideal learning environment. I certainly don’t have the solution, but I do think as we head back into school we can take the time to think about what we’d give ourselves gold stars for, and find ways to share and exhibit those strengths.

After all, it’s still school – and life – so inevitably there’s no escaping the checks and check pluses on certain things, but at least we can ease the pressure knowing that our cat in a bow tie drawing is worth a star any day! 🙂


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