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My Child is Stuck and it Makes Me Mad

By Zach Lahn on January 05, 2022

It was one of those afternoons. My son was grumpy. He’d have to work all weekend to finish a badge. My thoughts are once again screaming in my head: The system is too complicated! He shouldn’t have to work so hard to get a badge approved!

I want to intervene. Blame the school, my spouse, the guides.

But I resist. I’ve been here before. I know if I say there is a problem with the system and this isn’t fair, I will be told to stop intervening.

So I wait.

When the badge is finally submitted and approved, we process it together and I hear the same thing: “That was on me. I didn’t get the work done on time so I complicated things.”

Feeling the pain of procrastinating or turning in shabby work is part of the etching of character onto one’s heart. It is far from comfortable.

I felt a kinship to this anonymous middle school parent who said:

“A frustrating week. Even after days of begging and pleading, our Wonder's squad leader said there was no requirement for a squad leader to take the time to review and sign off on late badges. The result was our learner received no peer reviews and no credit for late badge work. Certainly this was a great lesson for our Wonder about how success sometimes depends on the cooperation of others. However, I am again asking the question why are studio squad leaders not motivated to help their squad members succeed? In most companies and functional organizations, a leader’s success depends on team member success. By not providing squad leader motivators for member success, the school is failing to teach an important life lesson about leadership.”

As always, we take these comments to guides and Wonders to investigate what is going on and see if we can make improvements.

On this one, a small group of Wonder leaders met with middle schoolers to investigate. What they found was written up to us in a report:

“According to all of the Squad Leaders, it is the responsibility of the Wonder to submit their badge on time:

  • It was made clear that it is no longer the Squad Leader’s responsibility after the deadline.
  • According to the Squad Leaders, it was made clear in Town Hall and discussions when the deadline was and what the consequences were of missing the deadline. They said that this is poor time management of the Wonder, and that the Badge System was very clear.
  • It would be a favor for a Squad Leader to review these badges, and according to the Squad Leaders, only a few were approached by Wonders with overdue badges.
  • Based on the comment and the responses by Squad Leaders, this falls on the Wonder. To put it bluntly, the learner acted like a victim to their parents, who do not have knowledge of the system. The consensus of those with proper knowledge of the system (the Squad Leaders) was that the Wonder is responsible for poor time management and a lack of effort to approach other Squad Leaders.”

The studio-mates worked it out. Squad leaders generously shared their personal time to help.

And I remembered that much of what frustrates my own Wonders (hence triggering anger in me) is tied to the consequences of work left undone, turned in late, or presented in less than excellent form.

While there may indeed be a problem with a process – and we will work with Wonders to improve those – as a parent, I’m gratified knowing my children are learning this truth deeply: missing deadlines hurts.

[Blogs or portion of blogs may be adapted from the blog of our partner school founder and advisor, Laura Sandefer.]