Choose A Grad

Most people, including educators, don’t know what’s important about schools.We think we know what we want from schools, but we’re mostly wrong in our analysis.

By way of illustration, I offer prototypes of two 18-year-old school grads. Their qualities are different and not mutually exclusive.

I realize this is an extremely  hypothetical exercise.

Still, play along, as I offer you two school system graduates, with a few guaranteed circumstances. Which would you choose, given the guarantees attached?

First, I offer you a young woman who was the top Physics student in grade twelve and the captain of the basketball team.

She was voted top athlete in her grade 11 year.

She is physically attractive and has a 4.0 grade point average.

She scored in the top decile on standardized tests in numeracy and literacy.

She had perfect attendance throughout her schooling and never missed a homework assignment or “extra mark” opportunity.

She never missed curfew or got into any difficulty with any school personnel.


I offer you a young woman who is happy and well adjusted.

She is a hard worker and loves learning.

She is tolerant, kind, and considerate.

She is accomplished at working with others and accepts personal responsibility for her actions.

She is a good citizen and a self-starter.

She is willing to stand up for herself but also capable of compromise and collaborative discussion.

She has a social conscience and is a champion of the underdog.

She is comfortable with peers and adults.

She has many friends, loves her school, and is confident and enthusiastic about her future.

Which of these two hypothetical grads would you choose?

The problem we have in education is that too many of us think we want student one when  we’d actually prefer student two.

About jimnelson806

Educational consultant from Port Moody. "The Stuff Isn't What's Important" " School Wide Discipline Programmes Don't Work" " Vice Principals are crucial towards setting direction"
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2 Responses to Choose A Grad

  1. James Minkus says:

    If I had to choose, student two would be my pick, but considering the issues facing our youth today, as a parent we need to find a way to support both. I get what you’re saying though Jim. It’s an Alfie Kohn idea, do we want commitment and deep learning or compliance with rules, grades and playing the school game?


    • jimnelson806 says:

      Hey License! How you doin’?Nice to hear from you! What school are you at these days? Are you changing the world or coasting ( both are OK)

      Yeah,you’re right. It’s a bit Kohn -ish.
      You’re also right that a melange of the two would be optimal. Unfortunately, parents almost never consider anything past demanding student one.

      Let me ask this. Which student do you is more likely to embody the qualities of the other student?

      I believe that the unwillingness or refusal to appreciate and encourage the affective benefits of school is what’s forcing schools into outcome based learning and allowing people to rank on public schools.

      Now this you’ll have trouble with;

      After 35 years in the saddle and 8 years of retirement, I believe the most important goal of public schools should be to help kids have a happy childhood. That done, the rest will take care of itself, much like Justin Trudeau’s much ballyhooed budget…


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