I believe in competition, capitalism, and the American way.
I think those who work the hardest and risk it all deserve the biggest pay-offs. I don't subscribe to everyone getting a trophy. Emotions are meant to be felt, not blanketed and bubble-wrapped in a magical fairy tale version of childhood.
Kids need to cry.
Then they need to dust themselves off, figure it out, and learn from their failures.
Despite my wretched and much-maligned Mommy Meanest ideologies, I do not believe in grades.
I know, I know. It is completely counter-intuitive to everything I stand for. Why not measure every kid, every class, every grade? Why not dangle little A's out there like golden carrots to keep kids motivated and eager to learn?
I was an A student and I rarely had to work at it. I smugly blew up the grading curve in countless high school and college classes, and I never once felt an iota of guilt.
Yet when I look back at how grades influenced my learning, it was clear what actually guided me. It was not an eagerness to learn. It was not a desire to develop my critical thinking skills. Instead, I subscribed to the LIFO theory of educational accounting.
In accounting, there are two ways to measure inventory. FIFO is first-in-first-out. The oldest inventory is always the next to go. Dusty widgets have to be sold before newer widgets.
Contrary to FIFO is LIFO, or last-in-first-out. New widgets have to be sold first.
My entire education was LIFO. I rammed my brain full of information for the next quiz or exam. It was all instantly regurgitated and forgotten. Information had no time to percolate. Whatever knowledge or insight I was supposed to gain vanished before my number two pencil could hit the desk.
I never considered my LIFO principles problematic until I watched my husband (then-boyfriend) go through paramedic school. Joe would spend hours not only memorizing, but trying to wrap his brain around ideas and concepts. I thought he was wasting his time and encouraged him to get flashcards and make up acronyms. Just get through the test and let it go.
Joe would just look at me.
And roll his eyes.
Finally, he explained that the information and techniques he was studying were needed for, like, ever.
Being able to assess a gunshot victim, take blood pressure, and administer life-saving drugs requires a level of knowledge and retention that I have never been able to master.
I have a 10 second memory in a 60 minute world.
Not surprisingly, Joe was the valedictorian of his paramedic class. He is an excellent fireman and medic. He takes an ongoing interest in new treatments, therapies, and pharmaceutical developments. He is a proud life-long learner, despite being married to a woman with the attention span of a flea.
When my boys come home with their report cards, I am that rare mother that frowns at straight As. I want to see struggle. I want to see effort. I want to see that they are not just spewing out the latest set of facts assigned to them.
I want them to be life-long learners and not LIFOs.
Now what was I walking about again?