School Archive

Learning to Fail

Posted February 18, 2021 By kmarrs

A few weeks ago, I asked Tumblr the following:

So I want to talk about parenting a gifted kid. Because I don’t honestly know if I’m doing it right. Please know I’m doing my best and in good faith seek advice.

For the past like 3 or 4 years, my 13yo Lucas, who is autistic and has ADHD which he’s medicated for, has been in the gifted program. I almost didn’t let them put him in it because I know the horrors of being gifted, but I was assured he’d never be pulled out of class, he’d just be doing slightly different assignments. When questioned he didn’t even realize he was doing gifted program work, that’s how integrated it was. I was assured he was doing different things, even if he didn’t realize it. Ok. That’s great. I let him stay in the program all through intermediate school (4-6).

He’s always brought home good grades. I’ve never cared about grades. I care about effort, whatever that means for the individual child.

Then the pandemic hit and the end of last year and all of this year became online. I’m sure I don’t have to tell y’all that online school and ADHD don’t mix.

With a complete lack of structure, he’s putting my disinterest in grades to the test. I think he is trying his best but the executive dysfunction is a bitch and he just can’t get anything done except under complete duress that’s exhausting and traumatizing for everyone involved. And even then he was suddenly failing everything. Everything.

At some point, I’m not exactly sure when, but I was probably a really tired single mother in that moment, I just radically accepted that this year is a wash and he’s probably going to be repeating 7th grade.

I’m not even mad. I’m just tired.

And I haven’t stopped encouraging him to do the work. We talk about what it means to repeat a grade. We discuss these kids he’s grown up with leaving him behind. We discuss that it’s not too late to catch up. But honestly fam, as the autistic kid, he doesn’t really have any friends he wants to keep up with. (That part hurts my heart more than anything.)

But I’ve just radically accepted that this year being online was doomed to fail and instead of being angry at him, I’ve made failing ok. I know if he were in an actual classroom he’d be fine. But he’s not so I have to accept the consequences.

Is that the right thing to do? What would you want your parents to do in this situation? I’m asking in earnest!

Every response I received was filled with encouragement that I was doing the right thing by him. Overwhelmingly people told me how they wish their parents had taught them failing was ok and how to fail. Because you know what? Sometimes you fail in life.

Which got me reflecting on teenage me in high school. I was undiagnosed with ADHD and Autism, severely depressed, and blossoming into having Borderline Personality Disorder. My grades, my senior year especially were a mess! And while my mom didn’t yell or punish me, it was very clear I had disappointed her, and that hurt. Instead of being taught how to fail, I was taught that I needed to achieve a certain level to be acceptable.

Fast forward more than 10 years to when I started college. I had it in my head that failure wasn’t an option, only somehow I got the message that anything less than an A was a failure. Sure I graduated 6 years later with top Latin honors, but I also almost died repeatedly because I had stopped making my own blood. If I had been taught to fail or at least accept less than an A, I might have spent less time writing final papers while getting blood transfusions. The two should never mix.

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Crossing the Stage

Posted September 16, 2019 By kmarrs

There really is little left to say beyond I’m glad I don’t wear makeup because I cried and would have looked like a raccoon. Otherwise, I’ll add captions to my photos so you know what you’re looking at or the stories behind them.

I have no idea at all how I earned this. I know it ties to my grades and has to do with leadership. I was not expecting this but it was drilled into me that it was a high honor.
Just my honors wrote out. It’s official. All my hard work was worth it!
So the frame was a gift from my former boss and forever mentor at Franklin. She and another coworker went together to buy me this special frame. I’m super excited about this gift. I think it’s amazing! I especially like that they bought me one that has a spot for my tassel. Then, of course, I had to drape my honors cord across the top.
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The Grande Finale

Posted August 26, 2019 By kmarrs

I am done with my Bachelors of Science in Applied Psychology. I don’t walk the stage until September 6, 2019, but all my classes are completed.

I wrote my final (bachelor’s level) thesis on the validity of personality tests in the pre-employment process and conducted what seems to be original and unique research on how many people actually fake their scores, and thus I might be working to get my paper published. Which is really cool and will look amazing on grad school applications.

I earned an A in all my classes over the past 6 years, except for one solitary B. My GPA is a 3.97 and I am, indeed, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

I’m so relieved to be done. I can focus on providing for my family, and spend more time with my family. My life is being pulled in significantly fewer directions now.

In a few years I’ll move on to the next phase of my education, but I’m not ready for that yet. I need a break anyway, but I also need my Sammy to be less needy. At the age of 8, she is in constant need for my attention and I hate telling her I need to study. I try to work a few games of Uno into the daily mix, and she always gets her bedtime snuggles, but that girl could have my full attention 24/7 and still would hunger for more. So I need to enjoy her while she wants me and go back to school when she doesn’t.

I’m just so fuckin’ excited to be done though! I’m the first in my immediate family to have a full college education and I worked so hard to be something. I am working so hard to be something.

Also, there is a party in my immediate future. I’m super excited about that! I’m pulling friends to me that I have not seen in a while and I can’t wait! Plus cake. Thoughts of the cake helped motivate me through the thesis.

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Silence

Posted August 14, 2019 By kmarrs

I’m sorry I went silent there. It wasn’t intended. But I had my bachelor’s equivalent of a thesis weighing down on me. I was also waiting to write about news of a new job. Which I do finally have news and I’ll share it as soon as I have details.

Anyway, this is just a quick note to let everyone know that all I have left to do is get my final grade and walk the stage. Otherwise, I’m done with undergrad.

I’m also off work this week and maybe possibly next because I had to leave the work-study job since I’m out of school now, and the new job hasn’t kicked in yet. Money stress aside, taking some time off right now is a blessing.

So that’s the quick, “I’m alive,” update. I’ll fill in more gaps soon.

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Self Worth

Posted June 17, 2019 By kmarrs

For so long now, my self worth has directly tied into my grades. I have an amazing GPA, I’m graduating Summa Cum Laude, this is what my value as a person is based on, in my eyes.

My therapist is working to convince me that this is not the best thing to measure my worth on.

She also went as far as to suggest that in grad school, I won’t continue to be a straight-A student; which I immediately took as a challenge. I will defy that or die trying.

Then when I shared that sentiment with my friends and family on Facebook, someone else pointed out that it’s not worth the die trying sentiment because literally, no one is going to care about my grades after I graduate.

So really, aside from being useful towards getting into grad school, grades don’t matter.

So then maybe this is why I shouldn’t base my self worth on them.

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Passion Project

Posted June 3, 2019 By kmarrs

Those 6 weeks in April through May were tough as I took on double the recommended course load so that I could graduate this September.

One of the things I dedicated myself to during those 6 weeks was my passion project for my anthro class. No exaggeration I nearly broke my mental health with stress on this project because I was excited about it, and forgot I was in a 200 level class and didn’t need to go so hard. My topic was Irish Gaeilge, but that’s only the briefest of summaries. (I’ll put more details on the end.) I got to pick my own topic, because the idea was for me to study, and apply an anthropological lens, to something I’m passionate about. And I gave it beyond my all.

I received my score in under 24 hours. My hard to please professor who doesn’t give perfect scores marked it 120/120. He noted where he could have taken points, but because he’s never personally seen a project so well done, he had no choice but to call it perfect. He added, “I’d even urge you to publish it somewhere, somehow.” With some notes as to where I could flesh it out some and an offer to help that I’m going to take him up on after I graduate. (Another 6 weeks of hell started in the end of May. )

As I gear up to graduate, and then take my GRE and apply to grad school, I have self doubts that I’m good enough. But where I’m passionate, I’m fully capable, I guess I’m learning. I just need to not break myself in the process.

Details:

So. I picked Irish Gaeilge as a topic of interest because I’m currently learning it. I wanted a deeper understanding why people picked this language as a second/third/fourth language. I know why I chose it, but what about others?

In week 2 I put out a basic survey asking 10 questions dealing with people’s connections to Ireland and why they chose that language. I then set that loose on Tumblr with some key blogs reblogging. I didn’t exactly get 5,000 responses like last time. But that survey was open to literally everyone, while this survey was open just to those learning Irish. I still got 335 responses, which isn’t bad.

However, as I started to do research, I fell headlong into the history of the language, its near extinction, and the revival in the past 100 years. Which then led to me learning that there are some in Ireland (this is not representative of the entire population) who resent being forced to learn it.

Which led to another survey, this one just for those who live in Ireland and are learning it, or have learned it, through the school system. This one I sent to a key friend living in Ireland and asked him to circulate it small scale. I only needed a few responses to this one. I got 3 which was great. This survey looked at the perceived effectiveness of the revival and their thoughts on being “forced” to learn it in school.

Then came the stark fact that 50-90% of the world’s languages are going to be gone by 2100 and the question, will Irish be one of them? I still don’t have a solid answer to this.

Anyway, 2 surveys and a couple dozen academic research articles later, I put together a beautiful presentation that I’m really proud of.

So go team me.

But I could use a nap.

And it’s not good that I nearly broke my mental health.

Mid May through the end of June isn’t going to be much better either.

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