I took a yoga class the other day (gotta try to take care of the ol’ body as hard as I burn the candles at both ends) and the teacher said something which really got me thinking.
“Alan,” she said. I paused and waited. “You stink at yoga!”
Just kidding. (Actually, she certainly could have said that. Another story.)
Indeed, I was struggling with a pose, though. Not uncommon at all. And the teacher, in order to lighten the mood as I strained and grunted through it (btw, a person’s yoga practice is supposed to be peaceful and calm, even if you are working at your edge… miles to go before I savasana, as they say) told me that the performance of a person physically has virtually nothing to do with their actual quality as a human being.
“One could do double pigeon pose with ease and still be a serial killer,” she said. “Focus on the quality of your thoughts. Your thoughts matter more than your degree of flexibility.”
The quality of my thoughts. That really got me thinking about our schools.
See, we mistakenly correlate performance on academic assessments with “quality of student”… as if the quality of a student has no relation to the quality of person that this student is.
A kid could ace the SAT’s and still be an amoral, reprehensible slime. And another kid could get bombed by the SAT’s and represent the finest of what we hope young people ought to become. The fact that we are rewarding the former in schools and demonizing the latter without taking into account the “quality of their personhood” is ridiculous.
We reward academic performance as if school ought to have nothing to do with the quality of human being one becomes. And we hammer academic under-performance as if the quality of person one becomes plays no role of consequence in a child’s future life.
Would you rather raise a D student of kind and noble heart or an A student of depraved and narcissistic soul?
To me it seems a no brainer. Yet in our schools, who one is plays little to no role in contrast to how well one can academically perform.
As the great Yoda would say, “Off base we are, think I.”