While the world was a-glow last evening (see above photo), my boy was in the house making a last-ditch effort for extra credit in Language Arts. Today being the last day of school, this was about as “last-ditch” as the effort could get.
He did a report on China and although we know his oral presentation was an A, and we assume his written work will get a good grade as well, we haven’t seen the actual grade yet. So the opportunity to earn a little extra credit by making a recipe from the country you wrote about offered J a bit of extra assurance of success on the project as a whole. Consequently, last night much effort went into making his favorite Chinese food – Crab Rangoon. All by himself I might add. And it turned out pretty darn well too.
The opportunity for extra credit is an interesting one for us. Especially since there was little or no opportunity for extra credit at his old school so the concept is pretty new to us.
Now at the new school extra credit is a matter of course for all students – you elect to do it or not, but the opportunities are built-in for all. For J, this is a good and reassuring thing because he does sometimes need an opportunity to accommodate a slip-up (or two or ten).
I think the old school would say this just encourages kids to not give their best effort on the actual assignment.
Hmmm, maybe in theory I guess. But you know what old school? I have two responses to that: First, I think extra credit is actually a demonstration of grace and an acknowledgement that we don’t all get it right on the first try. And an extension of hope for my boy who really does want to do well, but struggles to have it all together yet. And aren’t we supposed to offer grace and encouragement, especially to those who are young and learning? I think that might be Biblical.
Second, sometimes you give your best effort and still wish you had an opportunity to improve things a bit – in other words, best effort does not equal perfection for most folks. Extra credit allows for imperfection and allows one to demonstrate a willing heart to engage in the work even if the work turns out to have some flaws.
Thank God we have a place where it is safe to be less than perfect on the first try, and they value the heart of a child who wants to try.