This weekend, when I was cleaning out the basement, I found an envelope with my report cards from grade one through grade six. The Saskatoon Public Schools sent home a Pupil Progress Report three times a year, November 15, January 15th and April 15th.
The teacher gave letter grades and wrote a few sentences in the section under Teacher Comments. The Parent was supposed to sign on the dotted line where it said, (Parent’s signature), and then the report card was supposed to be returned to the teacher.
I remember dreading the report card. The last comment written on my report card from 1964, for grade one was:
Pam does good work, but I feel she could be more careful, that the work could be neater.
Mrs. Sukut, Grade one Teacher, 1964
I don’t remember how I felt when my mother read me the comment. I don’t remember what my mother said after she read it to me. I do know what I thought when I read the comment yesterday. “What a stupid comment.”
The teacher had an opportunity to encourage me. She choose to have her parting words to me be critical.
“The work could be neater.”
And what is, “good work?”
Are straight lines a sign of value? If all my printing was neat and sitting on a line a sign of intelligence? When you print the letter A twenty times on one line to practice printing, why can’t some of the letters be bent over or floating off into space. It is still the letter A.
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
Thumper – Bambi, 1942
My family is still asleep. When they wake up I want to encourage them with my words. I will think about what I value, neatness or creativity. I will carefully consider the words that come out of my mouth today.
I want my words to build up and not destroy.
The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.
What words will you use today? Will you build up or destroy?
Please let me know in the comments. I would love to chat.