Raising my kids to be ‘C’ students

It started, as it often does, with my reading the comment section of the local newspaper. I really need to learn to not read the comment section. The article was on the possible increase in taxation from the school division, and commenting contained the usual bevy of arguments, for and against, and the annual enlightened speech that we need to bring our schools back to basics. That anything beyond the three “R’s” was a waste of time.

Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic — because that’s such an intelligent purvey of what education should be about. You can insert the eye rolling emoji here.

I will not denigrate the value of essential skills like literacy and the ability to perform mathematical functions, but like most who believe in education, have a beyond essential understanding of the concept of 5C education, and the belief that we need to go beyond those five to create environments of learning. Does it cost more than the basics? Well yes, but the mandate of education systems needs to stop being about industrialized and measured and go to the important skills and personalized learning needed by our children. We are standing on the precipice of revolution in all aspects of work and learning. Now is the time to prepare to move from industrialized to technological and personal.

I’m setting up my children to be ‘C’ students with my blessing. I want them to have the skills needed to adapt, to think, to thrive and will encourage these both within school and at home.

We should all be ‘C’ students.


The number of articles and information on EQ or emotional intelligence increases daily. An interesting look at leadership from Harvard Business Review touches on the strength of women outperforming men in emotional intelligence, but beyond measurement, we should be teaching compassion at the basic level, which includes empathy, advocacy and the ability to determine everyone is needed to build inclusive and sustainable environments. Caring and respect are skills that build a strong foundation for growth.


Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted talk on schools killing creativity is the most popular Ted talk of all time. Creativity is not something that can truly be evaluated in a standardized system. Creativity needs the right environment to flourish and our current look at education often misses the mark in making that happen. Opening up the ability for students to explore their creative side and understand that there are many different concepts regarding creativity. We need to make things — have them fail — and make them again to understand the process of being creative.

Critical Thinker

In the time of everyone screaming fake news — it is an imperative that we educate to understand the process of thinking, of evaluating and of drawing conclusion based on information. We all have natural bias and we need to understand why we think as we do to go beyond it and dig deep into truth. I often tell my children to look at all sides of the issue and that a truth is likely a piece of every side you will only discover by examining what is opposite of your belief, before you allow bias and emotion to determine outcome. This is not easy. We, as adults, are prone to being lazy and looking for supportive opinion, but we need to be better role models to allow rigorous examination of fact. The examples of what happens when we do not surround us.

Continual Learner

Learning happens before we attend school, learning happens after we attend school. Learning never stops. We need to encourage using our time in education to be the start of ongoing experimentation. Here we can fail in an environment that protects us and learn it is not the end of the world. We can learn to develop theories, to test the waters, to explore and to find understanding. This should never end. We should continue to drive students toward the understanding that there will always be something they don’t know and wanting to know it is a good thing.

Collaborative and Cooperative

Similar and with same outcomes, while we are taught in primary school that we should share and work together, often the true skills to collaborative and cooperative work are not emphasized enough. A conversation with my teenage son talking about group work was majorly insightful. The number of times the experience followed the 80/20 rule, with 80% of the work done by 20% of group was wholly surpassed by the number of times that a project drifted because no one knew how to effectively lead — or work together in a cohesive direction. This circles back to some of the other C points as without them, you have less ability to understand people, motivation and how to work together. Amazingly, (or not) he could only recall one instance where there was a real collaborative effort, though there were many that seemed somewhat cooperative. We need both as a changing world shows movement towards a sharing economy.


While it seems we are more connected by way of technology, it is often true we don’t make real connections. Identifying the difference between someone that follows you on social media and someone that engages you on social media should be Life Skills 101 today. A huge shift needs to happen to bring back the idea that the quality of your relationships is bigger than the quantity. Connected means understanding who you associate with, how they can help you and help those you know. It goes beyond Likes and Loves and moves directly into comments and conversation.


While it could be considered a large part of being connected — it’s more my shout out back to the 3R’s -the ability to communicate effectively is important.

In order for a C student to succeed there are two more elements that are important


Having the right conditions for growth are paramount. Understanding how to deal with toxic circumstances, building an environment based on inclusion, support, and respect, needed.


Giving to and receiving from your community is major influence on success. No man is an island is apropos and we need to think in terms of how our decisions create ripples around us.

Moving forward we are going to need a more emphasis on the C’s and less on our current standard of evaluating and determining success by the ability to be taught to a test. Our children deserve a future that is not confined by what was — but built on what should be. It may be difficult to steer a public system entrenched in its own definition of success, but we are going to see our children left behind if we do not give them the opportunity to grow differently.

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