Who Says… We Need To Grade Our Children?

Part of the series Who says…
Written by Léo Gaumont, published on 2014-12-01.

Whoever considered a child to be like an egg?

Building on a foundation that God is, that He created the universe and that He ultimately is responsible for our children’s being, should provide ample substance upon which to build our faith. This lengthy series will identify the secular thinking that has eroded that faith.

Bible Reference: Phil 3:12-16

You are a failure, I kept telling myself. A loser who can’t even pass grade seven! How this happened, escaped me. I thought that all I needed to pass my grade was 50% and that was all I ever intended to give them. I had gambled and lost, but not really. I had been passed on condition, due to my failing to deliver the 50% and into the next grade while my best friend was failed into my brothers grade to become his friend instead of mine. I nearly lost a year but I did lose a friend. It was traumatic and it forever changed my attitude about school. From now on I would give them 55% to give myself a bit of insurance against… failing my grade!

It is hard to imagine that I should have lost a friend because he was now one grade lower than me, yet this grade based division usually creeps right into the family as well. Siblings separated by grades in school often carry the separation into the home. Older children are not just chronologically advanced but superior to their younger siblings. Another fine example of how “socialization” is meant to works against families!

No one fails their grade anymore unless the parents insist on it and even then, the fight is on. All children are in age appropriate levels, or grades in any system called school. Sunday schools work on the same principle. After over 100 years of using grades, even changing the word “grade” to “level” hasn’t changed the minds of people. Home educated children’s lives seem to be dependent on their being at the right level in their curriculum, in keeping with their grade. That part of school seems especially difficult to change.

I personally don’t believe we should be grading children. We can grade eggs as Grade B or A; Medium, Large or Cracked, but assigning a grade sets children up to pass or fail. In the real world, we actually don’t pass or fail. We have opportunity to advance or to try again. Each option is designed to make us grow. Under this understanding, what the world would see as a failure becomes yet another opportunity and life becomes a collections of such opportunities towards the ultimate goal of being successful in the eyes of the world and wise in the eyes of God.

While we rarely hear parents and students mention being ahead, we often hear complaints about students being behind. We have fun when we ask, “ahead or behind what”? Parents usually stumble at this question, usually being completely indoctrinated with the idea of grades and mistakenly thinking the number on the book they are using as the equivalent to a grade, whatever that means! The numbers on the books simply list them in order of difficulty, not grades. One would expect to progress in difficulty as one grows in understanding, therefore a more appropriate “grading” of children is their age. A six year old should generally know more than a four year old, and one would certainly expect an adult to know more than a child, although one is occasionally challenged by such assumptions! So, the next time someone asks your child what “grade” they are in, instruct them to tell the inquirer their age as they have been learning since the day they were born and to be prepared for a confused look or correction.

Who says we need to grade our children? Unfortunately, we do and we should stop doing so.

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