Monday, May 3, 2010

Just An Average Student

I am just an average student, or at least was while I was in school. I did well but never really well. I struggled in school due to a learning disability. During those years teachers did not advocate for students with disabilities to try and support them. You were just lumped in the "dumb" kids group. I think for the most part I frustrated my school's faculty. Just when they thought they could label me as dumb I would go on to win the Science Fair and head to States with great accomplishments.

As soon as they began praising me for my accomplishments I would start failing math again and I was back in with the "dumb" kids. In those days they were just at the precipice of the Politically Correct movement so teachers did call me and the others dumb. Yep they even told me not to go to college because I wasn't smart enough.

Then my essay in English would astound the teachers or I went to National Public Speaking Contests and won but all-in-all I was an average student who struggled greatly in school. Today I look at myself differently. I see the gifts the Lord placed in me and to Him I am above average. See it is just the way I was wired. I succeeded in the areas I did at school because those things incorporated my creativity. Those things allowed me space to learn in a way I could achieve at. Where as typical education systems stifled and frustrated me. Today I continue to learn but through means by which I have found out to be successful to me.

I guess I bring this up because one of my sons brought home a letter informing us that he "is an average student" and will be placed in some average classes next year. It went on to inform us that some of his fellow classmates will be placed in advanced classes but he did not qualify. He felt very dumb by getting this letter. I felt very sad because I know and remember what it feels like to be in other people's eyes, just average. Average isn't good enough and to some it actually is the nice way of saying dumb. The thing is I know he isn't just average. All three of my boys have a creative side to them. They might never be the valedictorians of their schools but I believe they will accomplish great things. Mainly because they will accomplish the destiny God put in them.

So why do we have to label and lump kids into categories. Each student has the potential for greatness but maybe not as we define or see greatness. I know a couple of my friends who were farming kids were labeled as dumb and therefore never tried to succeed. I however saw a different side to them and know personally that they were very brilliant. I don't disagree that kids should be given the chance to do their best in school and if your child needs more challenges then that is great because that is how God designed them, but what can we do about the labels? How can we encourage the average kids so that they know and believe that they are more then just average. It has taken me years to lose that label. YEARS!

For us we talked to our son and built him up in areas God has given him strength in and reinforced his identity in Christ not what others say, but we need to do that with all kids not just our own. Look for those glimmers of hope in the kids who struggle. Please if you have a chance to encourage an average kid like I was then take it. Help them know they are more than average and that average is as good a label as normal. I mean come on, how can you truly define normal? It would have been a different world for me if someone just said to me "You are more than your grades Livin. You are not just average. You are not dumb. You have potential for greatness."