Every June, a new crop of Grade 12 graduates heads out into the world. I always wonder if we've prepared them for it, or if it will be a rude awakening.
From early on, we've done a lot to protect our kids from failing.
Sports Day is now Fun Day. Lots of games, not much competition. While I want the kids to enjoy participating, I hope we aren't sending the message that they don't have to try in order to be successful.
Sometimes it seems a due date for an assignment is seen as a suggestion, not a deadline. A teacher was recently suspended for giving a zero on an assignment that was not handed in. "It doesn't accurately measure student achievement," is the refrain.
It might not measure what they know, but it sure is a measure of their responsibility.
I always hear kids ask if they will use what they learn at school in real life. I tell them school teaches them how to learn and to figure out what they are interested in - real life is much harder.
A great summary of the difference between high school and real life is a speech given by Bill Gates. Love him or hate him, his list of things not taught in high school says a lot:
1. Life is not fair - get used to it!
2. The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.
3. You won't make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a corner office until you earn it.
4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.
5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
6. If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault. Don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
7. Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
8. Your school might have done away with winners and losers, but life hasn't. In some schools, they eliminated failing grades and give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.
9. You won't get summers off and few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.
10. Television is not real life (especially reality TV). In real life, people have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
11. Be nice to nerds. You might end up working for one.
As harsh as it sounds, while we want to do everything for our kids, we have to step back and let them learn for themselves sometimes. We should offer motivation and advice to guide them, but if we expect them to run the world in the future, we have to let them figure how to do it, all on their own.