My youngest child came home from her first day in an Italian Public School and said, “My teacher said this is how to write an A, but I thought it was supposed to look like this A.”
“What do you think?” I replied, to which she answered, “I think it depends on what country you are in.” I felt like saying, “OK you just graduated!”
I remember when I was 16 and I spent the year in Australia as a Rotary Exchange Student. I was sitting in History class when my teacher started talking about how the Vietnam War started. I raised my hand in protest. I had learned something very different about which events mattered leading up to the Vietnam War. I remember vividly, sitting in the Southern Hemisphere, so far from home, as my teacher, with his cigarette hanging from his mouth said, “Who is right?”
I learned in that moment that history, even when it is presented as fact, in a textbook, is impacted by perception. Of course a different country would highlight different events from the same war, depending on their role in the conflict. It honestly never dawned on me before that moment that “facts” change depending on who is looking at them and from what angle.
My daughter, at the ripe age of 6, experienced her teacher pushing her paper back at her, covered in red A’s and speaking only Italian. What a gift that she understood there is more than one way to write an A. I don’t care if she can ever write an A. What matters is that she comprehends that often people mask something that is simply different with diatribes about right and wrong.
As she practiced her A’s repeatedly in her essay book, she said quietly, “I wonder how they write A’s in Argentina.”
As Albert Einstein so eloquently wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”