Softer around the edges

A reluctant change brings an unexpected result . 

I live with a mini me. She is unashamedly goal orientated, organised, fiercely independent, easily annoyed by inefficiency and sticks to what she does well. This child came into our lives preloaded with a whole bunch of software that is ideal for a schooling and learning environment that values structured learning, revisable testing and predictable scoring.

If we believed in rewarding her materially for performance or dangling highly attractive “carrots” she would certainly kick all those goals and more. In fact she sets her own targets and I’ve been presented with percentage scores before exams on a post-it note. It is not uncommon for these targets to be revised and adjusted to a more realistic number after she completes her tests. She is an accurate predictor of her own performance.

When her father and I introduced the idea of moving her to educational environment that valued a broader learning scope, without scheduled revisable testing, she bawled. She fought us with passion. Tears of anger were shed and she produced arguments like a champion debater. She pleaded for a few more years of no-change, adding “…..some people don’t like exams, but it’s ok for me. I know how to do well in them.”

Being reminded of my younger self, I knew she had a different side to her, yet to be unleashed, possibly even unaware to herself. And I truly wanted her to experience and explore that. It was essential for her to calibrate a balance.

We went ahead with our plans for to change her school. I spent three weeks over an open word document on my computer, drafting and redrafting our pitch to her. It was also decided that her father should break the news. He asked her to stay open, to give it her best and we promised we would review how she felt after an agreed time frame.

Within weeks into the new term, I noticed flowers being left for me by my bedside table, beside my breakfast plate. I was often showered with butterfly kisses and greeted with unsolicited hugs. When facing off with her siblings I noticed she would voluntarily back off, even offer a compromise that didn’t necessarily benefit her.

While her passion for learning is evident and she is determined to keep up to date with homework deliverables and enthusiastic about exploring extra curricular activities, I am most proud that she has just softened around the edges.

I am excited for what is in store for her. She is well on her journey of exploration, discovery and developing diverse spheres around her. She is no longer sprinting along a familiar, beaten track.

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