One of things I’ve realised since having children is that a degree in nuclear physics with a residency in brain surgery is required to understand and appreciate end of year school reports.
You are trepidatiously handed a brown A4 envelope printed with those infamous words “To the parent or guardian of…….”. In your head you have a split second to decide your planned course of reaction depending on the contents it reveals.
When I was at school (back in the day!) reports were simply a breakdown of each subject with a quick word from the class teacher to summarise.
Now each subject comes complete with a complicated grading system, not only for attainment and achievement but also as guideline to how the child is performing against national average (How you can create a generalisation for an ‘average child’ when there is no such thing as an ‘average child’ is beyond me anyway.)
It is, of course, helpful to see how your child is progressing in school but personally I have little regard for the academic portion; bar maybe the effort. What interests me is the choice of adjectives used to describe the child in the teacher’s comments.
Are they ‘helpful?’, ‘gentle?’ kindhearted?’ ‘overconfident?’ ‘challenging?’ ‘barbaric?’ ‘concerning?’ ‘monotonous?’ and I wonder how many were considered and rejected just to keep the peace.
I also like trying to decipher those parts where there has quite obviously been a search for positive wording.
“X is a natural team leader” = “yeah, he’s bossy”
“X has no difficulty making herself heard, even in noisy surroundings” = “why the hell can’t she be quiet???”
“X has been put forward for the debating team next year” = “well he cannot cope with being proved wrong so we might as well make the most of it”
It led me to wonder how I would fear against a modern school report.
- HOUSEWORK GRADE C R is an enthusiastic planner but struggles to allow time to actually perform the required task. She has a habit of beginning various different tasks at once which unfortunately don’t always get completed. Her delegation skills are legendary.
- GROCERY SHOPPING GRADE B R’s planning skills seem to have inconsistencies. This was evidenced by the ‘6kgs of carrots’ incident. However, her budgeting skills are commendable (she could perhaps remember that if you don’t actually need it, then it’s not a bargain).
- SOCIAL INTERACTION GRADE F If awkwardness and defensive sarcasm were Olympic sports then R would be representing her country. Her overthinking of situations could be considered a full time profession.
- SLEEPING GRADE A++ I am honoured to say that despite the best effort of others in her surroundings R manages to maintain her high levels of effort to this cause. She is willing to devote her own time to ensuring her own personal standards are met.
To summarise: “distinctly average, could try harder.
Welcome to my world