After the last time I was home, I brought back a folder in which I had stored several old letters, cards, awards and pictures. I have stories that I wrote in elementary school, as well as the valentine from Austin. I have letters from my old next door neighbor, after she moved away to Paris, telling me all about the latest French fashions circa 1996. And I have old fifth grade report cards.
I’m not entirely sure why I saved them. Or, rather, why I saved them in this folder, and why they’re not with any other elementary school mementos. But as I was taking my little trip down memory lane, I noticed two areas that we were “graded” in that made me do a double take: Work Habits and Social Development. As I looked down the list, at the individual areas in which we were evaluated, I thought about how pertinent some of the areas still are, and wondered if I’d score nearly as well now as I did 13 years ago. For example:
- Uses time wisely and Remains on task: I guess that means I shouldn’t be blogging at work, huh?
- Listens attentively and Listens without interrupting: These are just plain life skills. And help *significantly* with success in the following item.
- Cooperates with others and Relates well to peers: See above. Learn that rule, and this will be just a little bit easier.
- Exercises self-control: Uh, yeah. Working on it.
- Accepts responsibility for own actions: In 5th grade, this was more along the lines of not blaming the dog if you didn’t do your homework. The implications now are so much more.
- Puts forth effort: It would be very nice and after-school-special to say that at the end of the day, putting forth an effort is all that really counts. But it would also be a lie. In such a results-driven society, “just trying” doesn’t always cut it. (Oops, I’m sorry. My cynicism is showing again.)
These aren’t nearly all of them, but it’s a good list to start from. I would argue that none of these are any less important now than when I was ten years old. If anything, they’re more important because I’m now living in the real world where you don’t get grades, you get pay raises (I mean, ideally); and you don’t get detentions, you get fired.
And, even though I argued that it’s not entirely feasible now, I sometimes still miss the days when putting forth an effort would count for just as much as finishing the work on time.
Well, that, and being able to blame everything on the dog. “Oops. Sorry, El Jefe. The dog [that I don't have] ate the research you wanted on your chair by 9:30 this morning,” doesn’t have *quite* the same ring to it.