I’m going to begin and end with this thought: How about serving real, delicious, and nutritious food at every meal – even if children just eat 30-40%, rather than taking them repeatedly to McDonald’s and getting excited because they’ll eat 100% of their happy meal? Could this be true for grades at school, too?
Are you willing to ask: “Is 100% a blessing or a curse?”
I’ve taught school for a long time; 100% gets students and parents excited. Teachers, too.
For a student, it’s not enough to get 100 on one assignment; there’s always another. And the eternal question, “What’s your average?”
This blog post isn’t saying “I don’t believe 100 is good” – or that it may at times be evidence of real learning. I give this disclaimer because I’ve been trying to start conversations about changing education long enough to know that fighters for the status quo are already hurling their defenses at the screen on which they’re reading this blog.
But if you’re willing to think differently, keep reading.
Let’s consider these questions about the validity of 100%: One assignment really measures 100% of what?
- New learning? Of something really important?
- What a few students already knew?
- The answers on this assignment, but not really the “nutritious part” of the story?
- Effort? What if one student used 100% effort, but another only used 50% effort – or less?
What if we’re ok with confusion – because we believe that confusion always precedes real learning? What if we treated school lessons like we treat helping a baby learn to walk? We know they’re going to fall down – a lot! We know that some are going to learn to walk in a few days and some in a few months. . .and we’re ok with giving them the help and the time they need.
Here’s the real big deal for me:
God never measures my day on my 100%. Never.
I can’t quote one scripture that says I get His best when I finally measure up. I don’t have to be good, or get anything right; His love and approval for me never changes. As His child, He has His arm around me when I struggle and when I don’t.
Yes, I know. My sin will have consequences – and those can be pretty severe. But the consequences of my sin are NEVER a bad grade from God – or a disapproving look – or His distance from me – or an extra credit assignment to help bring up my average.
And this good news: I already have 100% – because of Jesus. End of story. 100% is my grade today and is always my average. I can stop defending my mistakes. I can stop hiding my struggles. I can stop pretending I know it all. I can stop swimming in the shallow end. I can ask for help.
And the best part – I can begin to venture outside of my comfort zone and live a grand adventure – where I will sometimes fall down – and that’s ok.
There’s a word for this: grace.
So now the adventure can really begin. I can explore beautiful and challenging and inspiring and detailed and more than I could ever understand by myself. It’s ok that I really need a teacher to help me. I can develop an appetite for really delicious – and nutritious.
I can enjoy and savor 10 or 20 or 30% of something incredible – and not freak out because I don’t get it all and I might not make a good grade on a test. I’m not failing; I’m learning. More than learning, I’m living. I get to drive right past McDonald’s.
So back to the school room and the curse of 100%: What kind of damage is our human nature thinking about 100% doing to our relationships? Are you requiring it of yourself? Your spouse? Your children?
Anyone in your home defending their mistakes? Hiding their struggles? Pretending they know it all? I know. We’re real in our home, too. But we’re finding freedom in trusting God and others and asking for help. Grace really is amazing.
Read about My Dream on the ABOUT page of this website; students at John 15 Academy will experience a report card outside of the false tradition of 100%. Please share your comments as you wrestle with life beyond 100%.