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How I Nearly Let My Son’s Transcript Get in the Way of Virtue

I am still here. Even though my son Alex is in public school, I am still here. I am still looking at life through the lens of classical education.

Things have been going pretty well for Alex at school. I like his teachers and his classes and I have been pleasantly surprised at how much they care. Most of them really do care.

I put Alex in honors classes because I heard through the mom grapevine that the honors classes are not disrupted as much. Plus Alex is a bright kid in need of a challenge.

I have been happy with the assignments. Sometimes ecstatic. When Alex was required to make a nature notebook I was giddy. When he had to read Fahrenheit 451 right out of the starting gate, I was happy. I was so excited about school I couldn’t wait to do homework every afternoon until Alex said, “It’s my homework. You need to let me do it.” I was happy about that too and when he got a 97 on his first essay, an essay I didn’t help him with at all (if you don’t count the last eight years and The Lost Tools of Writing.) I was tickled pink.

Then it happened. One day he brought home a bad grade. I did not freak out. Yes, my voice was strained and high-pitched but I did not throw anything. What I did was spend two days pondering life. Did I put Alex in honors classes out of pride? Were they too hard for him? Oh my goodness, what if he got a C on his transcript and couldn’t go to college and spent the rest of his life being ordinary because of that C. I needed to quickly get him out of these wonderful classes where he was learning wonderful things and into easy classes where you didn’t have to learn anything at all but could go to college and become a professor or something because you got an A on the transcript. The Transcript. THE TRANSCRIPT.

Don’t I wish I that last paragraph was pure farce? In a very short time, I had deteriorated from.”Wow my child is learning” to “Who cares as long as he gets an A.” I had been a mother for thirty-one years before I ever dropped anyone off at school and within weeks I had begun to forget how to raise children with honor and character and virtue: the lessons of a true classical education.

Alex may not be able to take Latin at his school but he can learn the lessons of virtue. He can learn to work hard on hard subjects. He can learn that there are worse things than a C, such as an A.

I may have been a mother for thirty-one years but I can learn a few things about virtue too, about letting even my very last baby fall and pick himself up. Because that is what Alex did and now he is just a wee bit stronger than he was before. Now he can face the next obstacles in life with just a little more strength. Alex is in honors classes not to get good grades but to get virtue and if I let the transcript get in the way of that then I am a very silly woman indeed.

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