First, let me confess that this post is not about my finest hour. In fact, I’m publicizing a big ol’ customer service faux pas to illustrate a point.

If my Yelp rating goes down, I’ll know why.

I wrote about grit in the classroom during last month’s blog post, wherein I cited, rather proudly, that two local superintendents discovered (to my JOY) that our program promotes grit in their students. Our games encourage students (by way of a fun reward) to complete a series of educational puzzles with help only from their classmates— unless they get so stuck that they may not “escape.” Then we offer hints.

The beauty about Schoolhouse Escapes seems to be that we provide a difficult and fun activity with a desirable ending, forcing the participating students to stay focused and determined during the 60-minute game until they “escape” to the finale, thus providing a reward, per se, for persevering through that horrible math.

Just kidding. Math is fascinating but also intimidating to anyone who doesn’t love it.

Grit has been in the media a bit more lately—particularly considering the USC (and other Ivy League schools) scandal, wherein parents essentially paid for their children to receive admission to prestigious universities rather than let the entrance committee chips fall where they may. The public outcry is, “Kids need to earn college entrance on their own merit!”

Let me make that practical: Kids need to do a lot on their own.

Some parents don’t realize they are helicoptering. They want to pave the way, smooth the road, and remove obstacles between their offspring and success. I see that in schools, too. Hence, my faux pas.

During a game last month, a well-meaning room parent removed a lock from a child’s hands, turned the dial to the correct combination, and pushed the button to open the container. Then, she placed the box on the table and allowed the students to do the (difficult) puzzle. To me, this posed a few problems:

Grit students1. She took away the reward for solving the math puzzle because…
2. For some kids, the ONLY fun part of the game is opening a combination lock, something most 2nd graders have never done, and
3. They didn’t get the “ah-ha!” moment of figuring out the way locks work—they didn’t get to enjoy the euphoric feeling of success the moment the lock popped open due to nothing but the work from their tiny hands.

My first instinct was to congratulate her on her grasp of second grade math and the adult dexterity to open a combination lock. The good news is that I didn’t say that, but after watching in silence a second time, I pulled the teacher aside and explained what I had seen and my reasons for letting the students do the work on their own. She probably agreed, but I put her in the position of needing to defend her helpers – and that was wrong.

The point I want to make with this post isn’t JUST to remind myself that the customer is always right, but that if I can make any difference at all… let’s remind ourselves to allow our kids to be children. Let them discover and fail and succeed and make mistakes. Let them enter the wrong combination and line-up the digits on the wrong side of the lock.

My kids are grown now, but I remember not wanting them to fail. I remember trying to make their lives easy, too.

I mean, not USC-parent-easy… but, you get my point.




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