• Cam F Awesome

You Aren’t Your Grade

This blog is for the “slow” kids. The kids who give their best effort in school, but still struggle with grammar. The kids who grow to hate school for the quarterly reminder that they are “less” than their peers. This blog is for those kids to share with their parents.

I have never been a proponent of formal education, but it isn’t because I’m lazy. I gave, what I thought, was my best effort in school, only to fall short of expectations repeatedly. It wasn’t that I wasn’t working hard; I just wasn’t working effectively, or with the right tools.

I was raised by my grandmother; she is one of my favorite people to ever walk the earth. My grandmother thought that I was mentally retarded, and always told me that I was.

She genuinely thought this, but was adamant that I not be placed in the “special class” in fear that I’d be picked on and bullied. Her sound, heartfelt advice to me was to speak as little as possible to hide the fact that I was stupid. As messed up as that was, she meant it with the greatest intentions.

I believed that I was stupid, and consequently, totally phoned it in at school. I was an easily distracted child, but I don’t think that this was a problem. The “problem” was, my brain worked a little different from others. This was something I didn’t understand at the time.

I was always good at math because of its consistency and absolutes. But, I could never wrap my brain around why there is a K in the beginning of the “nife.” You know, the word that rhymes with “life” or “wife.” I was great at memorizing patterns, but terrible at memorizing dates and facts. I vividly remember having a breakdown in school over READ and RED.

In my mind, to commit to learning a particular concept, I need to know why it’s important to know that concept, and why it is the way that it is.

This way of thinking requires a little more time from a teacher to delve deeper into a topic. Due to large classes coupled with underpaid and overworked teachers, I didn’t receive the instruction that I needed in regular classes.

I’ve learned to use social skills to skate by in life, but I didn’t have that luxury in school. The worst part of it all: every five weeks, I would receive a progress report that would confirm that my grandmother’s diagnosis was, in fact, correct.

If you were like me, you know that it was crucial to get home on Friday to intercept your report card. I would hide my report card until Sunday night; I needed to get my last weekend of fun in before I was punished for something that I had no control of.

Expecting 30 students, with 30 different learning styles to learn and process information in the same way, would be like putting every member of the USA Track and Field team in the same event and expecting them to excel in that competition.

Case in point: the hardworking and naturally talented shot-putter, who is guaranteed gold in the Olympics, will seem completely incompetent in the 400 meter dash. I was that shot-putter, and the classroom was my 400 meter dash that I struggled immensely with.

There were a few points in my education where I was so frustrated, and wanted desperately to prove my teacher wrong that I gave every ounce of effort I had, just to fall short. This made me even more resentful towards education.

Being an easily influenced child, it was easy to settle in to the state of mind that this was what the rest of my life would be. I began thinking that all of the student’s with A’s in class would get great jobs, and I’d probably be fetching their coffee or cleaning their bathrooms.

Herein lies my problem with the blanket statement that everyone must go to college after high school. I don’t think so. As a matter of fact, I strongly disagree with that. College incorporates the same learning style as high school, with the added bonus of massive debt.

I’m not anti-college when it’s for the right person. Although I’ve never attended one, I’m a big fan of trade schools. The job title, Electrician, may not seem as glorious as the job title of Nurse or Teacher, but an electrician makes significantly more money, with a lot less effort.

This blog shouldn’t be construed as an out for students that are performing badly at school to shut it down. I did that between the ages of 18-27, and I fiercely regret it. This is also not intended for students who are failing to feel good about failing. It is for them to not feel bad.

Knowledge is power. You must work your brain out to gain that power. But don’t fall into the trap of feeling like less, because your brain isn’t receptive to the workout that everyone else is finding gains in.

I believe that in your formative years, you should be strictly investing in yourself. I feel like school was a waste of my time, because that stock wasn’t for me.

Today’s students have a resource that I didn’t have (though I likely would not have used it); they have access to the internet on their phones.

I believe that all tests should be open book and open laptop. The reason I was given in school when I requested that a test be open book was, “You can’t take an encyclopedia with you everywhere you go.” My iPhoneX begs to differ. There is great value in learning to access information. “Open book” makes it an even playing field for all students.

You can use those devices for so much more that pointless apps that burn time. Technology should be utilized as a tool for students with, not a learning disability, but a different learning ability.

So, to the students who aren’t performing well, let this blog be a reminder that school is not a measuring point for how successful your life will be.