As I was walking into one of the nine schools I visit, I noticed that blue stars had been painted along the sidewalk leading to the front door. As a fan of symmetry, I immediately began to notice that most (if not all) of the stars had smudges, uneven angles and wobbly lines. Nothing that would jump out at you as a mess, but less than perfect. Perfect. Hmm, has that become the standard? I let that sit with me a minute and it didn’t feel quite right.
Yes, there is merit, and even beauty, in precision and sameness. But does that make those that fall outside of that expectation less valuable? Nope. Education models are merging into business models today. Children are being viewed as “products” and parents as “consumers”-kind of a weird analogy, don’t you think? But in the striving to create the perfect “college ready”, all AP, best athlete, highest score on the SAT type of product, we are missing the bigger picture. What about empathy, compassion and kindness? Not exactly standardized score kinds of stuff. Our kids (and parents) are stressed out, angry, depressed and discouraged by trying to reach an unreachable standard for most.
So here’s to the wonky stars this school year, the kids who don’t quite fit in, the ones whose smiles are contagious, the ones who are happy with exactly who they are, regardless of where they fall on a bell curve. As an adult, I recognize that some of my personal strengths are not from the straight edges and perfect angles of trying to be the best, but from the smudges and the wobbles that came with my struggles. They were blessings in disguise.