The Path to Success?

Pick a dot, any dot, they all lead to the same place> Unknown.

Looking at the above map you might wonder why our city needs so much educational support. You’d assume that we must have a terrible school system that warrants the need for so much outside help.

If you lived here, you’d recognize it differently as the “Path to Success.”

Many years ago my son tested to get into an honors math program. He exceeded the needed standardized tests score by 23 points. This put him in a more than safe position to enter the program.

It wasn’t long into the program that it became clear that while my son came by his math ability naturally, many others had studied, memorized and maybe, just maybe, test prepped into the program.

I only know this to be true because once upon a time I started falling for it myself. We were told that while he was doing fine in math, his “facts” weren’t as strong as others. This was of zero surprise to me, reading was his passion, but wanting him to be successful, I too searched for some outside assistance.

As you can see from the picture above, places for such assistance are plenty. Except most of the time it isn’t kids who need support attending these companies. It’s often the kids (Or I should say parents) looking for enrichment, advanced work, or anything that gives their kids an edge in school.

After going through one “assessment session” I knew that it wasn’t the path we would choose. I wasn’t going to enter my son into the race to enrich, excel, exceed.

I was so appalled by the experience that I wrote about it long ago.

Looking back, it was a gift in disguise. It was the defining moment that I decided I would never let someone try and compare my sons abilities to others. It’s the moment that I realized that we were not going to steal his childhood with rote memorization, tutor sessions, and hours of curriculum enrichment.

Fast forward 6 years from that experience. My son comes home from 8th grade “I’m one of three people in my class not taking honors geometry this summer.” (Students can take this class in summer school before 9th grade to accelerate 2 years ahead of the standard math course)

Me “Do you want to take math this summer?”

Him “Uh, no way.”

Then we both started laughing at the ridiculous notion.

I have an amazing relationship with my teenager and I’d like to think it’s because years ago instead of trying to control the path myself, I let it fall together organically, brick by brick. We each have our chances to add to this path.

The path we’ve built together has brought us up to this point and while I don’t know what the end will look like, I know that it will be a collaborative network of bricks that we’ve each placed not always knowing the direction they would go.

We only trip once in a while on a mal placed brick. I think they call that “grit” these days. :)

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