Am I Really Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Am I really smarter than a 5th grader?

Lately, I’ve had reason to wonder.  But, not only wonder, but ponder, lament, worry, and any anxious words with the power for me to wallow in my bedcovers.  On many occasion,  I’ve watched Jeff Foxworthy prompt some  Noble Prize worthy contestant to humbly stare into the camera of Jeff’s game show and say, “No, I’m not smarter that a 5th grader.” 

Now, I’m living it, but have lifted the bar, working in classrooms of 8th graders through Seniors. 

True, our son only graduated two years ago, but I’ve hula-hooped out of the school loop.  Either, it’s a new crop of kids, or ones I knew, but have shot up like sunflowers, slimmed down, filled out, or have gotten contacts.  Smartboards have kicked chalk into the dust, turning teachers and students into virtual John Maddens, slashing lines across maps and drawing—well, I’m not sure what most of the squiggles are—but explaining themselves through a magic pen voodoo.  We won’t go into all the ways Google Apps is linking the students to teachers, their documents, and the ability to do their homework on their smart phones—but not smart enough to keep that information from the uninformed teachers of that techno-capability.  (BUSTED!)   

Then, some of the basics are being changed.  I knew Pluto had been voted off the planetary list, but did you know we have a new Southern Ocean?  And who knows where commas go anymore?  They are being bounced around like balls in a Bingo tumbler. 

While the classes that tingled my interesting in high school are still my favorites, most of eye-glazing ones continue to have that ability.  Honestly, I’m trying, but my mind wanders to my to-do list at home, or what the kid across the room is sticking up his nose.  But, some things I’m newly fascinated with, and am picking up more of the dynamics in The Miracle Worker than snickering at whoever had to read Helen Keller’s line of ‘Wah-wah.’ (Oh, like you didn’t?  I had even learned Braille in Primary School because of her and still did.)

Today, one girl posed a plethora of questions, each oozing with youthful frustration. “Why do we need to learn about landforms?  How boring!  And we’ve had math questions in Science!  What’s up that?  And, they’re making us learn about the Dust Bowl in English!  Why, do they keep mixing the subjects up?” 

I was her (circa 1979), not understanding how everything worked together in an intricate ballet.  That had to come in the ‘ah-ha!’ moments sprinkled through life experience.  Come on, none of us is book-smarter than an any-grader on all things. 

And it’s ok.  We were created with unique gifts and graces for us to use wherever God chooses to place us.  If we try our best, ask for help, use the resources available, work on our weaknesses, and develop our strengths, the result can’t help but form us into being ‘swagnificent.’  (Teachable Moment Alert: This is gift is your new uber cool vocabulary word to use at your discretion.  )  

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put into practice. And the God of peace will be you.  Philippians 4:9