My son just finished his first year of high school. He is excited about how he did in all his classes except one. Learning a foreign language is his Achilles heel. No matter how hard he works at it, he still get trapped in the traditional grading points game. Unfortunately, this time the points didn’t add up to the grade he wanted. As he described this to me I rolled my eyes.
He knew what I was thinking when he said, “Yea I know, school shouldn’t be a game. I’ve heard it. But Mom what you don’t get is – high school is a game. It’s not about revision and the power of yet. That was middle school.”
I listened to him lament awhile longer. He told me he wanted to drop foreign language. I almost spoke, but I realized that the art of raising a 15-year-old boy is knowing when not to speak. He wanted neither another chat about developing a growth-mindset, nor one on the shortcomings of the last century’s grading system. He needed to figure this out himself.
After speaking with his councilor he accepted that colleges were going to be looking for at least one more year of foreign language. Expecting him to be frustrated by this, I prepared for the worst, but instead, he began thinking out loud about how much better this year was compared to the last. He talked about how much he had learned and how much more confident he was about his ability to learn.
I stayed quiet and listened.
I heard the voice of someone who was metacognitive. He was reflective and mindful of where he succeeded and where he failed. He knew where he was in the process and what figuring out how he would support his own learning next year. Then he said it – ever so casually – and perhaps not even realizing it himself, “I guess I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I will.”
“Yet” is one of my favorite words because it brings hope even when it seems there is none. Listening to him I realized that even if I can’t change the system all at once-- I can help my students -- and in this case my son -- develop a growth mindset so they can operate successfully within a system that is changing.
I saw this on Twitter last week and it hit home pointing out that change is, in fact, slow...
Change, especially within the traditional tradition will take time. I am committed to the process, but my current students need tools now that they can use to navigate through a changing system. This week my son reminded me that the power of “Yet” can bring us both a lot of hope.