When I was three years old, my father decided to teach me how to ride a bike. To do this, he would hold me up on the seat and run along with me as I pedaled. If I ever fell, he would be right there, ready to catch me. This technique worked for a while, but I would always learn how to ride a bicycle during the summer and forget the next year. My dad didn't know what was going wrong. He'd go out to the sidewalk every day, but, despite his dedicated attempts, nothing seemed to work. Although he remained patient for a while, when I turned five, in an act of desperation, my father decided to try something new. My dad held me up and ran along with me like he usually did, but when I began pedaling on my own, he let me go. I drove my bike independently for a while, but when I noticed my dad wasn't there, I fell and scraped my knee. To be honest, it hurt like a b***h, but one thing is true: I never forgot how to ride a bike again. It was only through failing and having real consequence that I was truly able to learn how to ride a bike. It's a powerful lesson if anything, and something hard to understand for a five-year-old girl, but somehow this idea stuck with me, and I was reminded of it a couple of days ago.
This past week interim reports were due and let’s just say that not everyone was pleased with their grades. When I first saw what I had gotten for my IA classes, I was pretty outraged. I didn't feel like such a low score was portraying my effort, so my first instinct was to discuss it with Mr. Cotter. We had a pretty intense conversation, and at first, I was set on the idea that I deserved better. Still, after speaking for about an hour, I began to realize that while I did many positive things throughout this bimester, I also made a couple of mistakes that cost me a better grade. The conversation took place on Tuesday, and grades were due Friday, so I had some time to process the information. And as the days went by, I thought about it more, and the arguments that Mr. Cotter proposed began to have more sense in my mind.
On Friday, I talked to Mr. Cotter again, and he raised my grade for a few classes, but others remained the same. Nevertheless, I was happy with the score I received in the end because I knew what I had to do to improve it. Now you may be wondering how this connects to the first story I told, but in my perspective, they both deal with failure. Although in Innovation Academy we try to cultivate a mindset that grades are irrelevant, they do matter in the real world. The first things that colleges see when you submit your application is your high school GPA, and that is a frightening fact that students must acknowledge. It's hard to admit our mistakes, and easy to shy away from failure, especially when accepting your wrongdoings can lead to a conflict of interest. While we seek to improve, we also fear the fall, so we try our best to avoid it. This might lead to us thinking the problem is solved, but in reality, we are only neglecting any lesson that may come our way. By receiving an undeserved, better grade, we are riding our bicycles with our parents besides us; avoiding the fall, but not learning anything whatsoever. Bad or average grades are like tumbling down from your bike and hurting yourself. While the grades may hurt in the moment, you are sure as hell going to learn.
I do think that I succeeded in many ways throughout this year, but it will forever be imprinted that I got a 5 in English class. I know that this is not a failing grade, but I set myself up for high standards, and I honestly wish that by the end of the semester, this number can improve. In fact, I have already begun to implement some strategies that might help raise this number. I am writing my blogs a week in advance in order to receive more feedback, and my ‘english-speaking game’ may help us cultivate an english-speaking environment inside the class. For me, this grade was my scratch in the knee, it served as a reminder that I have to get better and learn how to get up and keep on going. And although it may be hurting right now, I know that this mistake will serve well in the future.
While wounds and scratches will leave us scars, those marks act as reminders of the many things that we have learned. Pain may hurt you now, but every error is a token for our growth. If we avoided the fall, how would we ever be expected to learn? Our failures and screw-ups make us who we are and teach us powerful lessons that we will never leave behind.
“The earth has music for those who listen.”