Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of parenting a student is watching your child struggle to fit in. A bad social fit is painful for both students and parents, but a bad educational fit is excruciating.
Square pegs don’t always reveal themselves before their education is underway. First grade in American-style schools may provide the first filtering of students into gifted, standard or remedial groups or labels. In Japan, square pegs may just stop going to school. Here in the United States, some square pegs find their niche in different educational environments, including private, charter, and Montessori schools.
For Nala, first grade was the first time we realized she had her own way of learning. She remained in public schools and after six years of struggling to fit within the confines of her round hole, Nala begin finding ways to “square off” her environment, from the way she wore and wears the prescribed school uniform to walking out of class when a teacher ridiculed her answer (a learning experience for all of us).
Surprisingly, there are many flexible teachers in each grade in every public school Nala has attended and she often found herself in two or three of these courses each semester. These teachers find ways for square pegs to successfully participate in their classes and grade completed projects as a whole, even if the square pegs approach the project crab-wise (sideways) or by circling around it instead of tackling the project in the recommended linear fashion.
Ten years later, we are still trying to find her best educational fit. Instead of elementary classes, we’re searching for the right college environment: challenging but fluid, demanding accurate answers but encouraging different ways of arriving at those answers. Our square peg student scorns round holes, homogeneous environments, and the status quo. To tell the truth, I couldn’t be happier.