Jun. 20th, 2012

ciroccoj: (Default)
Daniel's in IB*, a pretty demanding academic program. He's had a tough year, having gone from home schooling, to junior high where he did very well with little effort, to high school in amongst all the other kids who also did very well with little effort. Mostly it's the academics that have been a challenge, but part of it has also been the occasional Stranger in a Strange Land feeling he gets among the other IB kids. Like a conversation a few days ago:

Kid A: ::talks about marks, and parental reactions::
Kid B: ::ditto::
Kid A: OMG my dad would kill me if I got lower than B!
Kid B: I'd be grounded for weeks if I got less than a B+.
Daniel: ::puzzled::
Kid A: ::to Daniel:: What about your parents?
Daniel: What?
Kid B: How bad could your marks be without your parents punishing you?
Daniel: For marks?
Kid A: Yeah.
Daniel: Um... I don't think they would. As long as they knew I was doing my best.
Kids A & B: ::are baffled::
::a while later::
Kid A: I was so happy with my last report card! My mom said if I got 5% in French more I'd get a gift card to [some store]
Kid B: Oh cool! I got the new Halo game when I aced that Math test!
Kid A: What about you?
Daniel: What?
Kid B: What do your parents give you when you get good marks?
Daniel: Um... nothing.
Kid A: What?!
Kid B: Like, no prize?
Daniel: No... they're pretty happy for me, but I don't get anything.
Kids A & B: ::are flummoxed::

I can't help wondering, are we that weird?

It's not that we don't care about Daniel's marks - we care very much - but... he's fifteen. People his age all over the world are treated as adults, and expected to take responsibility for their own lives. We help him in any way we can, but in the end it's his education. We kind of expect him to value it enough that marks - and, far more importantly, learning - are their own reward.

I get the idea of doing something nice for a kid who's worked really hard. I get the idea of providing some kind of discipline when a kid's really not working up to potential. But these are IB kids. They're all working their butts off, and showing that they're responsible and hard-working just by being in the program. Do they still need external carrots and sticks?

* Technically it's pre-IB, in that IB does not start until Grade 11. They call it the IB program at his school.

November 2012

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