It’s as if the motivational mechanism of our primary educational system not only neglects childrens’ intrinsic desire to learn, but actively attempts to shut it down and replace it with an extrinsic reward system that delivers nothing but superficial accolades and makes promises that it cannot keep. “Get good grades and high test scores and we will shower you with praise and you will be successful in the future!” — except we all know that we don’t live in a meritocracy and that the “skills” gained by “high achieving” high school students can turn out to be crippling in the real world.

They can struggle to think for themselves, after years of being conditioned to tow the line and value the “right” answer over everything else. They panic when they follow all of the rules and don’t get the promised cookie after all. They don’t know how to work with other people because they’ve existed only in a paradigm that fosters competition between them for resources that sometimes don’t even exist.

We turn our kids away from actual learning and line them up, single-file, to compete against each other in an obstacle course that has nothing to do with actual learning. It’s a pony show. We are making bricks for the Wall. It’s about control.

I don’t know what the answer is but the shift in your thinking is probably the best thing that has ever happened to you. “I’m choosing the process over the outcome.” Jesus, Yes. Do that. Grow that intellect and challenge yourself. Forget the grades and the external metrics. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is how people actually learn, and it’s clear that your capacity to do so is exceptional.

Mama, writer, lover, fighter — I wear my heart on my sleeve because my pants pockets are too small. www.ajkaywriter.com

Mama, writer, lover, fighter — I wear my heart on my sleeve because my pants pockets are too small. www.ajkaywriter.com