OK, this is another internet find but regardless of whether this is actually a true story or not, the message is worth hearing... And the moral applies to school, home and office.
Autistic boy fails his school exams – his teacher sends him home with a powerful letter that immediately went viral. Raising a child with learning difficulties isn’t any less rewarding than raising one without them, but it can be said that it’s a great deal tougher.
Whilst parents of children without learning difficulties undoubtedly fret over all the usual things a mother or father does, those parents whose children are born with conditions such as autism have all those concerns and more.
What’s more, in addition to the worries of the parents, the children themselves can sometimes struggle in high-pressure social environments. There is no better example of this than school, where grades play a major role in your progress.
11-year-old Ben Twist lives with autism, and his mom Gail was handed a huge surprise when her son’s school sent a letter home after he failed his SAT tests …
When Gail received a letter from Ben’s school, she would have been forgiven for expecting it to say something about how he needed to work harder or improve his grades. Instead, the letter contained nothing of the sort.
The innovative thinkers at Lansbury Bridge School and Sports College, in St. Helens, Merseyside instead gave Ben a boost of confidence. Despite the fact he’d failed his SAT tests, his teacher recognized that what he needed was support, not condemnation.
Mrs. Clarkson sent him home with a touching letter that let him know just how skilled he is, and what exactly he brings to the table.
The letter reads:
I am writing you to congratulate you on your attitude and success in completing your end of key stage SATs.
Gil, Lynn, Angela, Steph and Anne have worked so well with you this year and you have made some fabulous progress.
I have written to you and your parents to tell you the results of the tests.
A very important piece of information I want you to understand is that these tests only measure a little bit of you and your abilities. They are important and you have done so well, but Ben is made up of many other skills and talents that we at Lansbury Bridge see and measure in other ways.”
Upon reading the letter, Ben’s mom Gail found herself tearing up.
Mrs. Clarkson’s letter went on to list the things Ben was good at, things that a usual school test can’t measure.
“Other talents you have that these tests do not measure include: -Your artistic talents, your ability to work in a team, your growing independence, your kindness, your ability to express your opinion, your abilities in sports, your ability to make and keep friends, your ability to discuss and evaluate your own progress, your design and building talents, and your musical ability.
We are so pleased that all of these different talents and abilities make you the special person you are and these are all of the things we measure to reassure us that you are always making progress and continuing to develop as a lovely, bright young man.
Well done Ben, we are very proud of you.
The world needs more teacher’s like Mrs. Clarkson! It would have been all too easy for her to send a standard letter telling Ben’s mom that he needed to improve or change in some way. She didn’t though, because she realizes that judging a fish on its ability to climb a tree is as pointless as judging a monkey on its ability to swim in deep waters.
At my house, we are knee deep in university applications and the stress of the process is surprisingly real(at least for one of my kids!). I read this article from the Washington Post that explained what schools like Harvard really want in a student. Ontario high school students have until Jan 16, 2019 to apply to Ontario Universities. If you know of a student stressing about the application process, this article may help them re-think what makes a good student:
When applying to college, this character trait may mean more than grades
By Jennifer Winward
September 10As college application season arrives, the biggest struggle for many students is deciding what to write about for their personal essay. Channeling one’s inner self into a package that shines in print is not easy for anyone, but it is particularly challenging for teenagers who have not previously written about themselves in such a vulnerable way.
Students tend to start with obvious — and sometimes trite — topics: successes and failures, times of struggle, or mistakes that produced valuable lessons. However, the best essays are born when students dig deeper and share something that makes them tear up, or causes their eyes to twinkle or their tones to shift.
The only genuine way for students to recognize these personal moments of authenticity is for them to hear it for themselves. They need auditory feedback to recognize a pause, a moment of vulnerability, or a shift in their tone when they talk about the topic that should be the focus of their college essays. The insider secret? They should record themselves speaking about something that they love, that’s disappointing or that gets them fired up about life. They’ll hear it when it happens.
After guiding hundreds of these recorded chats with students over the past 20 years, I have noticed a common theme among those whose college essays brought about the best results in admissions to their top-choice colleges. The students who talk about moments of genuine kindness reveal more authenticity than those who focus on other subjects.
One student who was passionate about science and engineering lit up while talking about volunteering at a local science museum, planning creative projects for kids and narrating the planetarium show.
Another student talked about how his family’s deep concern for and commitment to the well-being of abused and neglected animals helped teach him to be more compassionate toward people.
One compared the experience of caring for her sick mother while going to school to trying to keep a full glass of water from spilling during an obstacle course. It’s impossible, of course. Water spills.
And one who lived in a home that couldn’t always afford to put dinner on the table spent every Sunday at his local church feeding the homeless. He knew how it felt to be hungry.
These students discovered something about themselves when they identified the situations in which they were the most kind. Kindness builds character, and colleges (and employers) care about character. Yes, grades, course rigor and test scores matter. But consider that most student applications will look very similar with just a straight numbers comparison. Kindness allows students to stand out.
A recent report by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Making Caring Common, speaks to this. Colleges want students who care. They are drawn to applicants who show concern for others, promote good citizenship and civic engagement and develop personal responsibility. Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University, says they “want students who have achieved in and out of the classroom, but [they] are also looking for things harder to quantify, [like] authentic intellectual engagement and a concern for others and the common good.”
Let’s take a step back for a second and think about why colleges care about students being kind. They care because society cares. Quite simply, we need more kindness in our homes, in our schools and in our communities. The impact of enduring kindness supersedes the name of the school on a college sweatshirt. Being yourself and channeling your inner kindness to build character should be the focus. Getting into your top-choice college should be the bonus of being kind, not the reason to be kind.
So channel your inner kindness. Consider the situations when you’re the kindest, and the people to whom you’re naturally kind. Why would that be? What does it say about you if you feel the most fulfilled when you are being kind to children or to strangers or to your teachers or to horses or to an elderly woman crossing the street? Think about that. It will tell you something about yourself, reveal a brilliant story to share, and give you a reason to be proud of who you are.
That matters for life, not just for college.
Jennifer Winward is an instructor at the University of California at San Diego, an 18-year veteran of high school tutoring, and the founder and lead instructor of Winward Academy. She earned her PhD specializing in adolescent brain development and adolescent learning.
The Community of Character is all about recognizing and appreciating the good stuff in life. This blog will share some thoughts on how we can be the best version of ourselves.