What Are Grades For?

Apropos of nothing the other night, my son asked me one of those questions.  He was clearing the table, just lifting my plate, and in that off-hand way that 12-year-olds have of innocently asking complex questions in expectation of simple answers, he didn’t even pause.  “What are grades for?” he said, and walked my plate and fork and knife into the kitchen.  I heard the dish clatter into the sink a bit too hard, but didn’t react to it; I had frozen up.  Seized.  Completely.

It wasn’t quite the, “Where did I come from?” question, but for a family of independent school educators, it lacked none of the gravity, none of the complexity, none of the challenge.  I knew it was one of those questions first because I was instantly aware of the myriad possible answers, the tangle of directions this conversation could go, pathways it could take, and what was at stake, and second because my wife and I looked at each other with wide eyes, mine asking, “You want this one, by any chance?” and hers saying, “He asked you.”

I didn’t know what the right speech was, but I felt myself begin, at the speed of thought, to evaluate costs and benefits, permutations, possible outcomes, effects on future conversations, effects on my son’s sense of self worth, and my estimation of what my son wanted to know.  What was he asking, anyway?

Was he asking, “How should I think about grades?” which is a good question and not one any teacher or parent should gloss over or take for granted.  If we don’t help our kids think about grades, they will arrive at their own conclusions, and in some cases spend years unlearning them.  One student I know was 40 years old before he ever heard and believed, “You write well” from a teacher.

Was he asking, “How do my teachers think about grades?” which is harder question and fundamentally speculative outside of the realm of field-of-education-wide generalizations.  But a good question, nonetheless.  One well worth asking several times a year.  As a teacher I can tell you that how teachers think about grades is variously variable in certain small but not insignificant ways by student, by quarter, and by assignment.

Was he asking, “What effect do grades have on my life, what will they do for me, or to me?” which is a question that immediately provokes the protective parent in me, the part of me that casts the world as buoyant and wants my son to see it as a playground.  This part of me wants my son to try hard, to learn well, to play, to commit, and to savor childhood and adolescence and adulthood and middle age and the later years even unto death.  Living under the threat of another’s judgement dampens the joy of play, of learning, of life.

Or was he asking, at some level that he is not developmentally ready to acknowledge, the really insidious question, “Are my grades me?”  That is, are grades a comment on me or on my work?  I know this question to be far more complex even than that.  Grades can be a reflection of a student, a student’s work, a teacher, an assignment, a home life, a mood, a social situation, a clash of cultures, a time of life, even a conversation in a morning carpool.  We live some of our best moments as teachers when we ask, “What else is going on in this kid’s life?”

I have a feeling he just wanted to know why we do it, why we give grades at all.  You know, like, whose idea was it?  And if that was a part of his question at all, I am proud of him for asking it.  Because it is not obvious.  And the question itself is born of confidence.  There is a confidence buried in that question, “What are grades for?”, that acknowledges that they may not be necessary for learning, that learning and grades are somehow separate.  Learning can happen whether we get graded or not, and so, what are grades for?  In that light, it is a beautiful question.  And he asked it on his own.

But asking a question is a vulnerable act, an unstable position, full of potential and possibility.  The answer you get, or rather the experience you have in asking, either opens a door or closes it.  The answer you get, or rather the experience you have in asking, determines future experience.  Incidentally, I don’t overthink every question my kids ask me, just the important ones.  This one had high stakes.  Hence, the moment in which my wife and I looked at each other with wide eyes, mine asking, “You want this one, by any chance?” and hers saying, “He asked you.”

And I didn’t know what the right speech was.  I just knew this was one more time when, as a parent, I couldn’t panic.  I wasn’t allowed to telegraph the small terror I felt at the prospect of saying the wrong thing.  (Some day, I am going to do it.  I am just going to fall, over the edge, into the abyss of blissful honesty.  I am going to surrender to the terror of the responsibility of constantly being in command.  I am going to abandon myself to the peace and freedom of not knowing, not needing to know, not having to support the facade of being a responsible parent.  On that day, my daughter will ask me, “Papa, what should I do with my life?” and I will say, “I don’t know.  I didn’t even know what to do with my life.  Most of the time I don’t even know what I don’t know about what I should be doing with my life.  I think I don’t know the answer to your question, but I am not really certain of that.  I don’t really know whether I know or not.  What should you do with your life?  You are doing it.  Right now.”)

Some day, that is my planned freak out.  But not today.  So, what to do as my son cleared the table and waited for my response?  Many rhetorical devices jumped to mind.

Should I lead with a question?  “Why do you ask?” (Which is, in most cases, just an evasion, a parry to buy time.  No help in this case.  The cavalry was not on its way.)

Should I lead with an affirmation?  “That’s a great question.”  (Which tends to portend an examination of an issue’s complexities and I wasn’t at all sure that was the right speech in this instance.  Or that I could sustain an examination of an issue’s complexities.  The long way around the block seemed risky at best.)

Should I probe?  “Well, what do you think?”  (Which tends to be my default setting as a generally socratic teacher.  No good.  I was, in this situation, aware that I was not being asked as a teacher but as a parent.  This challenge should be met head on.)

Other possibilities.

Should I dismiss?  “Grades are meaningless.  Don’t even think about them.”  (Not my style or even in my comfort zone.  And not true.  My son would see through me and I would probably break out in a rash.)

Should I make it seem absurd?  “Grades, in the end, are the only thing that matters, the only thing that endures from your school experience.  Your grades will be the only thing anyone ever looks at to judge you as a student, as a learner, and as a person in middle school and beyond.”  (Not as inaccurate as one might think.  Dangerously believable, but certainly not the message I wanted.)

More than anything else I wanted to tell the truth.  I was desperate for it, in fact.  In moments like this, when my kids ask me real questions, I am not as cerebral as I am intuitive.  My intuition has gotten me in trouble in the past, but I rely on it nonetheless.  I trust it, and my intuition runs toward telling the truth when it matters.  But the truth about grades is multifaceted, and my son didn’t have that much time; the table was almost cleared.

So, I gave him two sides to the issue that, together, I felt could potentially capture the whole complexity.

I said, “I can tell you what grades are suppose to do, and I can also tell you how they are sometimes poorly used.”

“Okay,” he said.

“Grades are supposed to be an objective, judgement free, evaluation of a student’s performance, not of a student, himself, but of what he did, his actions, the degree to which he satisfied the assignment and learned what the teacher wanted him to learn.  In that way, they are not supposed to be a reflection of you as a person.  They are supposed to be an accurate reflection of what you did – and that can be influenced by a million things.  How you are feeling, whether you got enough sleep, whether your natural style learning fits whatever the assignment asked you to do, whether you were absent that day, or distracted by something else.  In that way, grades are supposed to give you a sense of how your teacher thinks you are doing.  And with that information you can make changes in what you choose to do as a student – if, that is, you are particularly interested in learning what your teacher wants you to learn.  If not, then your grades won’t reflect your learning necessarily.  They will only reflect the degree to which your goals mesh with your teacher’s goals for you.  That is how they are used well.

“Sometimes grades are used not so well.  Sometimes they are used to categorize students into groups – like eggs or beef or something.  Grade A medium,  grade AA large, grade D but fit for human consumption.  In that sense, they give people ahead of you, admissions folks and teachers at schools you might get into, a way to label you as fit for a certain place or not.  It is a way packaging students and directing their flow through school.  The A and B students go here, the C and D students go there.  Maybe you can see the problem with that.

“The key is to realize and remember and believe that your grades are not you.  And that they reflect what you did as much as anything else that contributed to how hard or easy it was to do it.  Does that make sense?”

I thought I might have been over his head at that point, but as usual my son got it.

“Yeah, it’s like when my teacher says, ‘You could have tried harder.’  How do they know that?  Sometimes I try as hard as I can and my teacher says, ‘You need to try harder.’  And I can’t.  I hate that.”

“Right,” I said.  “You know how hard you tried.  And really no one else does.  Only you.  And sometimes your teachers will be wrong about that.  But you know in your heart how good you are, no matter what your grades are.”

The next thing he said was appropriately 12 years old.  “Can we have dessert?”

8 thoughts on “What Are Grades For?

  1. stephen randall

    I’m overwhelmed reading through your entries. They are so thought provoking. For me its difficult to restrain my impulse to jump from one entry to the next before I give myself a chance to digest the content fully. I love those kind of conversations where a person has been thinking on a concept and hasn’t formulated an opinion yet but there mind is still in discovery mode. Even if I don’t believe I know the answer its an adventure to explore the subject. Compared to average folks guessing from their responses, they’ve said ,”you can think to much”. Talking to Ivan Poutiatain one day I made the comment that it was possible to think to much and he said, ” I don’t believe that it is possible to think to much”. That was a very liberating experience and I’ve recounted it many times. It may sound extreme but almost every day. So when encountering food for thought like your blogs it takes a lot of effort not to eat to fast so to speak. If you can indulge me a minute , humbly , I believe a child can think on very deep levels .They just lack the experiences to make sense out of the deep water they find themselves in. What I like so much about Peter and his family is they aren’t dismissive in there relationship with you. This is a rare quality in America maybe in the world. My dad had difficulty empathizing with you during a lot of conversations. Like so many people he had his mind already concreted on an opinion on so many issues that he had a hard time changing his mind even if he was presented with information that would conflict with his his present perception. This can be very frustrating to a young person especially. I realize now that this probably was a default mode for my father and that the garden he had grown up in had stunted his ability to test all the spirits before he settled on some of his convictions. The nut doesn’t fall from the tree so its not surprising that I thought in like manor.But I started to challenge my perception of the world. We can learn from anyone’s experiences no matter how foreign to our own. Its just we have to test these concepts by some consistent standard. We don’t have to know all the answers to be good parents ,mentors or friends we just have to be willing sometimes to wade into the depths together and be honest about what we see and feel. Be balanced see and feel. byrandall june 18 2010

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  2. putyatin Post author

    Great thoughts, Steve. You have struck, I think, one of the main schisms in teaching. I think, as you do, that kids know things already. They don’t need teachers to tell them things or to add to the list of things they know. That sounds simplistic, but as I am meaning it, it isn’t. Yeats said, Education is not the filling of a pail. It is the lighting of a fire. I believe what he means is that students are not like empty vessels to be filled with knowledge from some external source. A fire has all of the fuel it needs to burn on its own! It just needs oxygen – which is a fertile and stimulating educational environment – and a source of ignition – which is a text or an experience. The teacher’s job is to create and maintain the learning environment and to bring students into contact with “things of great grace” – like Hamlet or mountaineering or calculus or true insight. Of course the teacher then should try to extend and deepen the interaction the students have with those “great things.” But the learning is there, latent within the student already. A teacher doesn’t even awaken it. A teacher simply gives the student the opportunity to awaken by bringing him into contact with a great thing.

    I say this is one of the big schisms in teaching because many teachers see teaching as the filling of a pail. They see their job as being a “knower” who transmits knowledge to students thereby filling them up until they are full and then either graduating them or testing them on their quantity of knowledge. I don’t see it that way.

    Students will verify this, too. More and more students say, “I learn what I am asked to learn and I remember it long enough to do well on the test. And then I forget it, or delete it, to make room for more information and the next test.”

    One way you can see a teacher’s conception of teaching is to look at whether they ask more questions or give more answers. The asking of questions evokes inner knowledge. The giving of answers intends to fill a void with information. It is so deep, basic, and fundamental to a teacher’s self conception that they often don’t even know what their self conception is – they can’t see it. If you quote Yeats to a teacher, most teachers will say, “Of course! That is true. That is the way I see teaching, too!” And then if you watch those same teachers teach, often you will see behavior that tells a different story. Many of those teachers who would affirm Yeats spend all of their time in the classroom standing and delivering – transmitting “important” information for students to absorb.

    Some teachers, though, give just enough information to enable students to begin asking their own questions – and when they do, they ask them more questions to evoke the inner truth that is already there, just buried or hidden or invisible.

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  3. stephen randall

    Peter,
    awesome thoughts! I hope I can convey my thoughts and feelings back at you. When you said, ” teacher as knower” this dynamic happens in all of human endeavors. Through a general environment of insecurity people try to exert control over people or the environment. This can be expressed consciously or unconsciously. In relationship people have difficulty being vulnerable with each other because we sense that we will be taken advantage of by others or the environment. If I possess the goods I have the power. It sounds a little cynical but I think it exists naturally to some degree in all of us.Loving people struggle against it by learning how each of us express it in our own relationships. Its about our attitude towards serving or being served. Someone said ones to his friends, ” you have learned that to succeed in this life that to lead you want to be first and you want to order those who are under you around for your benefit. But, he said, the true way to succeed is if you want to lead, put yourself last and serve everyone! I am far from able to practice this virtue myself but I recognize it when I see it displayed in someone. Our culture is repeating the same mistakes that humans have since they have been on this planet. Americans let their heads swell and accepted the flattery you’ve come a long way baby. When in fact I’m afraid the masses are perpetually digressing and only a few venture ahead. We humans are a pompous lot thinking we can improve on nature and I envy the aboriginal people around the world because the true ones have learned how to live in harmony with it instead of devising was to exploit it for power and greed. Why we learn is just as important as the substance. If we learn for the wrong motivation than what we learn is artificial like so much of what human technology produces.

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  4. stephen randall

    I’m still thinking about the whole arena of thought surrounding the grade issue. I’m currently going through a situation on my job. On transit to a store that I needed to deliver to in Brooklyn NY I had an accident involving another car and myself. Thankfully no injuries occurred . The company I work for response at least as far as I know right now is to penalize my record 20 points.Over time those points will be reduced and at some point in the future theoretically my record will be clean. In a real sense every day we’re being graded in all our relationships on this planet. I don’t know statically how I fit into the spectrum of humanity on this point bot very soon after the incident I was asking myself why this accident took place both on the level of my driving skills and cosmically. What are the most important things to learn from the experience? I’m learning right now even in the process of sharing this that we even grade ourselves consciously and unconsciously. People who know me say I am to hard on myself. They are saying my grading system is harsh when it comes to how I judge myself. This may or may not be true and surely varies from one situation to the next. One of our goals in life should be improving in all areas we are in control of. The question becomes then, how do we accomplish that? I don’t come anywhere close to having much of the answers. Hopefully these comments will stimulate dialogue so that we all can learn and move closer to the promised land. When a seed is planted it has all it needs potentially self contained to become. It also at the same doesn’t have any of what it needs self contained to become.I know I am becoming and in that process have discovered how much I need support from others , this planet and God. That discovery can never stop! Like a tree that grows in the physical when it stops growing its dies. I have to go to work now . Please join in the conversation because that is part of what makes life sweet.

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  5. putyatin Post author

    You make really good points, Steve, and your thoughts help me to clarify my own. Profound thoughts well expressed.

    Your situation at work with the 20 point penalty brings up a lot of thoughts for me. And a couple of questions that I offer you – for what they might be worth to you. No need to answer them publicly unless you want to.
    •What do you think your company hopes to accomplish or inspire in you by levying the 20 point penalty?
    •In your estimation, is it effective is doing that?

    What I mean to bring up here is that grades are used for different reasons, for different purposes. And the effect of grading is not always in line with the intended outcome. This especially true in schools, but in life it can have ill-effects, too.

    Not sure what your company is using the 20 point penalty to do, but that is up to you to decide.

    As for grading ourselves, you are right, I believe: we do grade ourselves consciously and unconsciously. It is important to ask why. Why are we grading ourselves? To what end and for what purpose? Is it to inspire us to improve (grades as inspiration)? Is it to punish us for something we didn’t do well (grades as punitive measures)? Is it to categorize us as one kind of person or another (grades as grouping devices)? Or is it to objectively quantify the quality of our performance (grades as information)?

    I love the idea you present: “One of our goals in life should be improving in all areas we are in control of.” I recently had my eyes opened by a friend of mine who has spent the last six months teaching English in Bhutan – a small kingdom in the Himalayas. He said the biggest difference he has experienced between Bhutan and the US is that the Bhutanese care nothing for being good at things – expertise. They care a lot about the being good to people – relationships. My friend suggested that in the US, things are opposite. Americans care a lot about being good at things and not very much about being nice. It brings up the question for me: what is the price of always striving to be better?

    Is it possible that God is the only one who can/should be grading us on our performance? (And I fully admit that my conception of God is different than yours and most other people’s – so, I don’t mean to be speaking of a God I don’t know. I actually believe that my conception of God and yours – and all peoples’ – refer back to a common power.)

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  6. stephen randall

    Hey Peter, doesn’t take you many words to cover a lot of ground. I definitely appreciate the effort you’ve displayed in putting fourth your questions in response to my comments, thank you. I hope I can reciprocate as intelligently. I can only speculate on my companies motives for their practice of assigning penalties to drivers that are involved in accidents. The company is huge and I believe the largest trucking business in the US. It is self insured and that probably plays a major roll in all accident policies. Everything is a number. It’s the only way a monstrosity like it can relate to any issue,it’s simple,and effective from their perspective. It’s main concern is being profitable with the least amount of risk. To some extent the fact that I had an accident and that it wasn’t to serious is a benefit to the company. I’m considered less valuable as a driver because other companies wouldn’t hire me with my record. Now my company doesn’t have to give me any raises in order to keep me in their ploy. In some ways it is an effective practice. Pain in the body stops you from seriously injuring yourself or tells you something is wrong . This is their way of exerting pain on me so that it wont happen again. I’m sure I want to comply! Something about unique experiences enhance our memories and if I ever make this delivery again I wont make the same mistakes. I am inherently a risk taker when it comes to my personality. It definitely has it’s negatives if not kept in control. Being a disciplined person is not my strong suit either. This whole situation has focused my attention on becoming more cautious. To be a good person starts with humility. After thinking it over and discussing it with my wife I confess that I was to cocky while driving that night. We are warned during our training not to get so much confidence that we slack in our diligence. Isn’t every endeavor about balance? In a limited sense we can have a relationship with the material world. To have a relationship based on love though it has to be persons oriented. What I mean is, it has to be expressed from at least one person to another person. Also what I’m referring to is a concept of love that fulfills the need of another without expecting anything in return. In my experience thus far that kind of love doesn’t seem to come naturally or without much sacrifice. It seems for me it is much easier to be selfish. I agree with you on the expert thing if I understand you correctly. Humility and expert just don’t seem to go together. I hope you can indulge me but the issue of expert is a topic that I feel very passionately about. Not to convince you of the existence of a personal god but to try to share where I’m perched when it comes to how I view the subject.To start off we’ve only known each other a relatively short period of time but I look up to you, respect your accomplishments,and envy your vocation. Some one said,” in order to have a relationship that’s intimate you have to allow the other person to have the freedom to contradict you without impunity. I’m going somewhere now and I’m not sure where you stand altogether in contrast to my opinion. I’m a little insecure so I’m probably going on more than I have to,to prepare you. I’m not an expert in any endeavor and I don’t want to be. I haven’t always seen the world through that lens. Ironically if you understood the unadulterated teachings of Christ, not distorted interpretations of religion you would come to the same conclusions I did on being an expert. My concept of God is that he is the embodiment of grace, giving freely good gifts to all humanity not based on any good performance from our side of the equation. In turn if we comprehend the overture we respond to the modeling lived for us in the person of Christ. We take our giftedness and share it not capitalize on it. That’s what experts do. I’m still in the formative stage of figuring out all the implications of the practical side of the issue. We live in a material world and our material needs have to be met and God knows that. There is our roll in the dance of life and there is Gods. Someone said search for the path that leads to heaven and on the way don’t obsess over what your body needs. That there is a lot problems to work out to this view of life is not an accident. This life is about preparing, but not totally for the future. Again balance. Living in the present but cognicent of the future. In my estimation today education in society has digressed into producing experts with credentials that prove you are and everyone assumes you are and that’s some of the reason we’re in such a mess. In aboriginal cultures you are valued for your place in community not an entity unto yourself. The community needs you ,you need the community. In Dances With Wolves the contrast between the two groups of Indians was played out to show something about this. The one group was painted up to intimidate, they attacked the soldier violently, if I remember they stole his horse, they were threatened ,they responded from a fear based world view. There wasn’t enough resources to share with everyone. Then look at the other tribe. Just in their appearance you could tell they were peaceful and secure for some reason. They ultimately adopted him into their community just like the women he fell in love with. I’m not talking about taking a vow of poverty but our cultures preoccupation with accumulating is sick and we are the leaders of the world at it. Everyone wants to be like America, pity them and us. Fear not, Stephen

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  7. putyatin Post author

    Great thoughts, Steve, and I appreciate your taking the time to write so deeply, genuinely, compassionately. Sadly, your kind of presence is rare these days. I call it your presence because I want to encompass your whole way of being in dialogue like this. What makes you and your approach to ideas unusual and important is more than any one quality, more than just your willingness to give the time (few people do), more than just the connectedness you see in all things (few people see the connections), and more than just your ability to believe what you believe and hear others’ beliefs as just as valid (few people keep such an open mind) – it is all things together, an infinite combination of little and big things that come together to make you who you are.

    You know, I have thought for a long time that your and my conceptions of God are not that far apart – I hope that doesn’t offend you – not my intention. I do not believe in a personal God that supervises all people in the same way. I do believe in forging a personal relationship with the great creative force that governs all life.

    I do believe in the teachings of Christ and I interpret them in the way that offers the most significance possible – as symbolic truth. I am an English teacher because it fits my make up – because I have always found more meaning in symbols than in objects – the truths that objects point to more than the objects themselves. Objects are ephemeral, temporary, of this world. Truth is enduring, permanent, reliable. So when Christ says, “I am the son of God,” I don’t spend any time wondering if he means literally – it doesn’t matter to me whether Christ was actually created in immaculate conception in the the union of God and Mary or whether he was birthed in a manger. Those are the objects that point to the truth – which is enduring – that Christ is the son of God – as are we all birthed from the same creative force that governs the universe. I believe that is what Christ wanted us to understand.

    I think everyone on earth (and beyond, by the way) needs a spiritual life. Many people don’t have a spiritual life or don’t know they don’t have one – which is sad and my work as a teacher is similar to the work of a minister in that way – helping people develop a clear and personal sense of the big questions that exist in life, which is the core of any spirituality. I don’t believe that anyone’s spirituality should be governed by the same set of rules or dogma or truths as anyone else’s – that is why I can’t embrace mass, organized religion. It seems to want to supply a standardized set of religious rules for everyone to follow. It is one-size-fits-all spirituality.

    I do, but the way, support anyone’s choice to believe in any variety of God he chooses. John Fowles wrote, “There is only one good definition of God: the freedom that allows other freedom to exist.”

    It is true, too, that my beliefs change with every new idea with which I come into contact.

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  8. stephen randall

    Thanks Peter for all the complements I appreciate them, especially coming from you. I don’t want to give a false sense of humility. What ever you perceive in me that reflects a positive energy I can’t take much credit for. I attribute where I am today to my God my wife and friends and all my experiences good and bad . I include you and your family in the whole mix. I went WOW! when I read you this time because there’s so much there to respond to and to think about. I think it’s going to take a little effort to organize my thoughts and respond comprehensively . The question, do any of us have a choice in what we believe at any one point in time is something I’ve been putting out there with folks I’ve been talking with lately. I thought the question might ad to the conversation we’re involved in at the present . Maybe I’m making a false assumption but I bet you take the way you use your intellect a little bit for granted because I observed that your whole family uses their noodles a slightly different way than I’m accustomed to witnessing first hand. I’ve absorbed a lot of information over my life time but I feel it’s relatively recently that I’ve been contemplating what I’m absorbing. I’ve always listened to what people told me but it’s taken me a long time to not believe what everyone one has told me. I didn’t used to think for myself ,partly because I wanted to please those around me and partly because I had no one to teach me how. I think working for myself taught me a lot in that regard. I had to do a lot of problem solving something that I think is really lacking in general in our culture. I have noticed though that the folks I meet from California seem to be able to be less prejudice towards new ideas. The natural world has definitely influenced me beyond measure and to some degree is a filter to my philosophy of life. There is a logic to it all, from my way of thinking.I think reality has a unity to it a pattern that if analyzed from an honest humble heart people come to some similar conclusions about what the patterns mean. Everything that a human can logically decipher has to have pattern in it in some way. Everything is language or communication. Who is it talking to and what is it trying to say? The world is becoming so alien to me because of mans artificial influence on it with all his technology. We are so proud of ourselves for our accomplishments but we’ve traded our souls for the poultry gains we’ve experienced. Lets change direction a little bit. You are truly blessed that you can call yourself a teacher and at the same time be a teacher. Being is the secret to life not achieving. You have already stated this yourself. It’s knowing who you really are and not being afraid to be that person. Unfortunately I didn’t like who I thought I was but I’m finally embracing who I am even though I’m not totally sure who I am. This whole journey we’re on is all about finding out who God is and who we are in relationship to him. What I’ve learned is we can only find out for ourselves what we believe and we can’t depend on anyone else for what we believe because it has to be our own experience. I’m concerned about what the people who I’m close to believe because of the tenants of my faith but I totally abhor trying to convince people of what they believe is wrong and what I believe is right. What I believe was a gift given to me by my experiences in an environment God created to convey part of his message of love to me. It took a response of faith to that message that sent me in a particular direction that lead me to believe what I do today. Like you it makes good sense that as we move down the paths of life our perception of truth will be altered in correlation to our perspective of it. Our perspectives are always changing. One thing to remember is that know matter how well intentioned a human being is he is always vulnerable to mistakes. In contrast who or whatever brought the universe into being accomplished it with out to many. As long as we’re earnestly seeking the answers to our hearts questions I believe that Being out there or in us will reveal those answers even sometimes to the ones we didn’t ask. We are free when we are not afraid any more.

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