So, you know that quote that says:
"Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish simply by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
Whoever said that was probably NOT a very good tree climber.
At any rate, I seem to have several fish trying to climb trees in my house.
It is no surprise really.
We are always telling the kids that busywork (e.g., homework without any discernable purpose) is kind of bullshit and real learning takes place when they ask questions and challenge themselves.
As a result, they don't always do homework.
Actually, they only do homework when they, themselves feel compelled to do it.
My 12-year-old is getting a D in band even though she plays the Saxophone really well. On principle, she refuses to fill out and have me sign practice time sheets because she feels she should be judged only on her ability to play.
In theory, I am good with all of their choices. The trick is in being relaxed about the bad grades, grades that have no real reflection on the brilliant kid.
But, what if I am wrong? What if teaching my kids to think outside the box and question authority is going to leave them lonely and unhappy in life? What if grades really are the end all be all and they will be left with no real options in the world? Can they get by in life by just being clever and snarky?
Sure they can. I do.
We are on the path of recognizing our genius fish for exactly who they are and I think it is best to just keep on keeping on.
Us: "School is a tool for you to use. The teachers work for you. It’s not the other way around. You can get great grades and see what school has to offer then (Hint: a lot). Or you can learn as much as you can without being invested in grades - or you can drop out and become a rock star. Whatever you do, grab life by the balls! Or, at the very least cup the balls, tickle them a bit. Or, slap the balls. Do something with life’s balls. But whatever you do, do it on your terms."
Yes, we really say that. You do not want to go through life ignoring life’s balls.
Sometimes the wonderful things about kids don't show up on report cards or awards. Sometimes you have to pay careful attention to notice when your fish is doing something other than climbing a tree.
Spencer (now 16) is probably sneaking by with a C in his history class, but that doesn’t stop him from creating a study guide for his friends.
I include a few samples for anyone who wants to learn more about history:
Emmett Till. A 14-year-old African-American boy murdered in Mississippi for flirting with a white woman. They took the boy away to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, shot him through the head, disposing his body in the Tallahatchie River. Three days later, Till's mom had an open-casket funeral which really grossed people out cause he was mad fucked-up and that got a lot of people really angry and BOOM! Civil Rights Motherfucker!
Malcolm X. Look at that sick ass name - like damn!
March On Washington. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom or "The Great March on Washington", was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history. Martin Luther King delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech, calling for an end to racism. Also you know that thing where the Titanic crashed because so many time travelers were on board trying to save it? Well I think the reason so many people marched on Washington is because all the time travelers wanted to see it. Further proof: Even our teacher Mr. Walter said if he could go back in time it would be to that day - so I'm just sayin'.
So, if we spend all of our time getting this guy to climb trees and do conventional homework and put his square peg of a brain into round holes, we never get to simply enjoy what happens when our little genius fish swim like crazy, all the way upstream:-)