When my youngest boy was in fourth grade, our school district decided to do away with the regular grading system for elementary students because they thought it was too hard for children to receive low scores. At the time, I wasn’t able to articulate why I didn’t agree with the decision. Now I realize that it is because the decision was based on the belief that each child has a fragile, prideful personality. My response may sound harsh, but please follow my thinking.
If you believe that your performance determines your value, then your self-esteem is based upon pride. When you believe this way, then you can’t fail without feeling like a failure. This type of thinking means you can’t change. You are what you are, good or bad.
If you believe your performance doesn’t determine your value because you are already valuable, then your self-esteem is based upon humility. Under these circumstances, you can receive a low grade because the grade only reflects your performance at that particular moment. If you want to do better in that area, then all you have to do is figure out what you are doing wrong and change it. The ability to think in this way relies upon humility.
I believe that when we tell our children that they can’t do poorly, then we are telling them that they can’t change. Learning to improve by failing is an important skill successful people possess. Name one person who has ever succeeded at accomplishing something great, and I will show you how they succeeded by humbly using the process of hard work and figuring out what was wrong to make it right.