Old Truth: The way to be successful is to do well in school.
Sometimes I am shocked when I hear myself tell parents not to worry if their child is not bringing home A’s and B’s in school. I grew up with the mentality that if you do your homework and get good grades you will go to a good college, get a good job and be successful. Children hear this mantra from their parents over and over: “Do your homework. Study for your test. Clean your room.” These seem to be the 3 marks of future success. Can I, a teacher for decades, really be shifting my beliefs?
New Truth: Teach your children that anything is possible, dream big dreams, go with the flow of life, trust that you are here for a special purpose and enjoy the process of discovering your unique talents and gifts.
I look back on my teaching years and all of the children who came to class unprepared or who were not good test takers. There seemed to always be some children who knew how to ‘play the game’ of school and others who couldn’t or wouldn’t fit into the mold that was demanded by conventional education. I watched many of these children grow into adults and I have come to believe that their degree of success and happiness had little to do with the grades they accumulated during the course of their school years.
Children need to trust that they have unbounded potential and that nothing limits them but the beliefs they have about themselves. Children need to trust that they will figure out life as they go along and that their parent’s choices do not have to be their choices. When children learn to be sensitive choice makers and are encouraged to feel their spiritual and emotional connection to others, they learn that it is their attitude and openness to inspiration rather than a collection of grades that leads them into their greatness. A life of true success includes the ability to love and to have compassion, to feel joy and share it with others, to feel the passion of one’s unique purpose and to connect with the divine power of the Universe.
I’d like to share some ’school stories’ about some people who may be familiar to you:
Thomas Edison: Brilliant scientist and inventor was thrown out of school at age 12 because he was terrible at math and unable to focus. His teacher said, ‘he was too stupid to learn anything.’
Pablo Picasso: His paintings sell for millions of dollars, but he had a very difficult time in school and was labeled dyslexic.
Leonardo Da Vinci: Internationally renowned inventor, scientist, engineer, painter and sculptor, had ADD.
Robert Frost: The poet laureate was expelled from school for chronic daydreaming.
Winston Churchill: England’s famous prime minister had to repeat a grade in elementary school.
Albert Einstein: He did not speak until he was 4 and could not read until he was 7. One of his teachers described him as ‘mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in foolish dreams.’
…And for us Southern Californians, this one is particularly interesting: A newspaper editor fired a young man, named Walt Disney, because ‘he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.’
What are all these stories telling us? RELAX. Worry a little bit less. Even some of the most genius folks in the history of the world struggled in school.