Can we raise kids without Shame, Guilt, Fear, Pride, and Desire? Can we school kids without grades?
Updated: Jul 27
I watched the Ellen Degeneres Netflix special yesterday, and in the Q&A at the end, a grade 2 teacher asked her "how can I support my students to be kind?". Ellen's response was "have a class on kindness, i mean, you already have subjects like math, english, and history, that no one is going to use, come on, you know its true, so why not dedicate a class to what it means to accept others?". A cheeky, but bold response....
My husband and I take a ton of fire from our family because we do not parent in a traditional way. We accept our kids for who they are. We work with them, but only when the time is right. We do not enforce the law 24/7 just because we are bigger. What bothers our family the most is you can not make my children do things, and sometimes they are rude.
But what our family members fail to recognize is that when they come to our house our children are not the ones who opened the door to let them in. Our children are in the middle of something (eating, watching, sleeping, playing, learning, thinking etc). If someone else let me into your house while you were busy doing something, you would find me particularly rude if I came up to you and insisted on a grand welcome, wouldn't you?
We had a couple instances at school that made it quite clear how grades and consequences are truly in-effective and disturbing to children (or at least to my child).
My son is in grade 1. He can not read. Yet, the school insists on teaching math using multi-page word problems. Not only that, they grade work that has not been taught, in order to get kids used to receiving grades, because in a couple of months they will receive a report card with grades on them. Again, my response is, "my son can not read, he will not be reading said report card".
That said, he does know what a B looks like, and he does know that a B is not an A and that to him means he failed to be good.
So, when he got a B on his assignment, because it was incomplete and some things were not done in the way the teacher laid out in the written instructions, which again he can not read, his response was "I hope I don't get a C tomorrow and then a Z the next day".
So, when the assignment came home, I took a good look at it and saw where the incomplete understandings were.
Some of the "misunderstandings" were my son finding his own way to use spacial concepts to work things out, by putting a number legend on a graph, instead of writing totals at the bottom of the table, especially since there wasn't any indication that totals were required on the bottom of the table. See images of his work below.
I find this especially interesting, since in my discussion with the VP, who is actually quite open-minded to how we parent, she shared with me her favorite flow chart which is about how to teach creativity and innovation. She really loves the words they included in the flow chart.
And my response to her was "I don't understand your flow chart. Creativity and innovation can not be taught, they need to be allowed by not trying to force all kids into carbon copy boxes."
What my son did above is creative, and innovative. Yet he lost marks?
Everyone remember the famous saying by this out of the box thinker?:
My solution to this issue was to write the teacher and request that instead of grading my son's work, do what you need to do in the background but just highlight to us what needs to be worked on in order for him to be at the level you expect so he can get a good grade.
This was actually the idea my son and I came up with together and he was really excited to continue the learning at home. He loves learning how to spell, and at school they let kids "guess" how things are spelt, which doesn't support him to learn or attain a goal that gives him any kind of satisfaction.
My request was over-ruled, and instead the teacher decided to sit with my son and make sure he understood the next assignment and could complete it in full, including correct spelling, and they went through the criteria together for what is required for an A. And together they decided he deserved an A.
I am very grateful that she took the time. Except, he came home from school that day, when we had planned to spend some time after school finishing his last assignment and said "I got an A, I don't need to do any more work". Ugh.
The learning on the previous assignment was still incomplete! Even though the second assignment he did with the teacher was the same, when I finally sat him down to finish the first assignment, it became clear that he can do math in his head, but he doesn't know the difference between the symbols (+, -, and =). He thought = can be applied in all situations (i.e., can represent a + or a -).
So an A in one assignment is still not completed learning.
Grades fail to meet their objective.
For adults I feel grading lets them know how much the child has mastered the topic, and how much more support is needed to get the child to master the topic.
As soon as you hand a grade to a child you trigger: Shame, Guilt, Fear, Pride, or Desire
All are considered FORCE on the table below and breed physical and mental illness and dissatisfaction with life!
I write a lot about this table and its impacts on parenting, see here:
- Defining the levels of conscious parenting (the table at the bottom of this article really brings it home)
I even sent this to the Pink Shirt day campaign (see: Pink is not a trend, its a cry for help!) and to our school. The Pink Shirt day campaign did not respond, the school response is still pending.
The reason I sent this table to the school is my son was part of a recent incident at the school, which some may call "bullying" and some may call "children trying on different hats to see who they want to be".
My son was disturbed by the event, but continues to be more disturbed by how the consequences and requests for amendments are being handled.
I explained to the school that we do not use any of the tactics in the table above that are below 200, except for sometimes Anger, if we (as parents) have not made enough time for our own self-care (see here for more on this). Instead we use Acceptance, Reason, Unconditional Love, Neutrality, Courage, and Peace.
So, when some kids got punished and they tried to force each other using Shame and Guilt to make amends in the same way, my son was particularly bothered. He already had to process the incident and figure out where he stood. But the bullying persisted on another level as to where do the kids now stand and who is going to write an apology card to the person who was targeted.
I am not forcing my son to do anything. I am listening to him. I am accepting when he does not want to talk. And I am supporting and voicing his decision to the school.
The reason I sent the above to the Pink Shirt Day campaign is because you stop kids from bullying each other by setting a good example from the top.
If parents and schools stop bullying kids, stop using Grades to fuel Desire and Pride, stop using Consequences to fuel Shame, Guilt, and Fear (lets be honest, the Grades also fuel Shame, Guilt, and Fear), then we have children who know how to Accept, Reason, Love, and are Willing to find Peace and Joy with one another.
It truly is that simple!
I am actually happy this incident occurred because I have been trying to raise this perspective on bullying for a while, but as a projector by Human Design, I can not go into anything without an invitation. I said in my head, if I am intended to speak up, my son would have to get involved in a bullying incident, and he did. So, here I am.
And I'll be honest. I am not immune to feeling Pride, or Desire, or Anger, or even moments of Guilt and Shame. But I do not live there!
I remind myself of my Gene Keys.
We all have shadows that we must grow in and from in order to deliver our gifts. In fact, for me to be healthy (my Radiance) I actually have to live in Arrogance some time, so that I can step into my role as a Leader.
You can not lead others if you do not like yourself!
In addition, one of my lessons in my Soul Contract is to move beyond "wanting to be special" and to accept and share myself with others.
None of us are born perfect, but we work on ourselves.
When I feel my ego creep in saying "wow, I'm good at this!" I allow it for a minute, I keep at bay the shameful and guilt-filled judgement of "how dare I think I am better than someone else", I remember that I may be further on one branch of a tree, and someone else may be further on another, but does that make me higher than them, or are we just as good as the other, but on different branches of a tree? And I remind myself of the spiritual concept that:
"If someone who is more enlightened puts down someone who is less enlightened for not knowing better, they do not help the un-enlightened person to become enlightened, they simply teach them to pick on people that are smaller than them"
And this is how parents and schools create bullies, by using tactics below 200 in the table above.
I'd love to hear your KIND thoughts.
Love and Bless, Strong Family!
MSc Psychology/Neuroscience (Stress & Health)
You Have A Life Plan