“Take these test papers home and have a parent sign them. Bring them back and place on my desk tomorrow. Make sure your parents go over these tests with you.”
Sally took her test paper from the teacher and saw the big red F. It was math, and she was not doing so well after being gone for her grandmother’s illness and funeral. It was tough seeing her grandmother so sick in the hospital and then dying.
Sally took the paper home. Her dad worked the second shift, so it was just her and her mom. She took out the math test and told her mom all about it. Math was not her mother’s subject either but she signed the test to put in her book bag.
The next morning after the family breakfast, it was off to school. Dad had to go back to work early for overtime, so he was leaving too.
Sally took out her things and then walked up to place the test on the teacher’s desk. As she was walking back to her seat she heard.
“Sally, what in the world is this. You did not have your mother sign this. This looks like you tried to sign your mother’s name. Get out to the hallway now!”
Everyone was looking at her. She went to the hallway as the teacher followed. The teacher went to the classroom next door and was telling her I had signed my mother’s name to my test. I need you to watch my class so I can go down to call home.
“Call home? Oh no, she can’t call home. This will be horrible for my mom. How embarrassing for my mom.”
“Please, don’t call home.”
Too late, you should have thought about that before you lied and cheated. Now sit here with your head against the wall.
Both classrooms were looking at Sally as tears fell from her eyes. The tears were for her mother not for herself, but no one asked; they were telling. If the teacher would have asked Sally privately the true story could have been told. It would have saved the humiliation of many that day!
The truth behind this story is about a young 3rd-grade girl who was very shy and kept to herself. Her mother did sign the test paper but the teacher thought it was a forged signature because of all the eraser marks.
See, my parents did not have an education, but they respected it. Teachers were important people. My mother had the most beautiful handwriting; she could only write her name. She wanted it to be perfect for the teacher. This is why it was erased so many times. It was going to the teacher so it needed to be perfect.
I did not want the teacher to call home because I did not want my mom to be embarrassed. She had cried so much and lost her mom; she did not need the teacher yelling at her too. I did not want the teacher to think poorly of my mom because she did not have an education. She was the best mom anyone could ask for.
My older sister was at home when the teacher called. I was so thankful she came to the school. She asked if I wanted to go home and I did. The teacher looked at me but never apologized for anything to me. Maybe she was humiliated. Probably not as I look back. Still, I wouldn’t say I like math because of that dumb math test!
This real story in my life was brought back to my attention as I read Humble Inquiry by Edgar Schein. The book begins by pointing out three kinds of humility. The three kinds are: Basic humility, Optional humility, and Here-and-now humility.
Basic humility is a social position people are born into. Optional humility is a status achieved by accomplishments in their life that are more than we have, so we respect or envy them. Here-and-now humility is a temporary feeling when we are dependent on another for a task, need, or support. An example would be a doctor in an operating room with several different people. They could be of varying status levels. They depend on each other to complete the surgery with success.
I was worried that my mom would be humiliated (embarrassed). She thought highly of the teacher and would not want to be called out about her signature. The teacher had Optimal humility.
I am looking forward to the second edition of Humble Inquiry! Please order your copy now on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1523092629?pf_rd_r=H69DKNZTN8Y17PG0603Q&pf_rd_p=5ae2c7f8-e0c6-4f35-9071-dc3240e894a8&pd_rd_r=38dbd04c-aaa7-4108-9336-cb2be3ecde88&pd_rd_w=gLZQ0&pd_rd_wg=6yhst&ref_=pd_gw_unk
In our society in general, we do a great deal of telling. My story is from many years ago, but it is still relevant. Do we ask the right questions? Most importantly, do we listen? Do we acknowledge?
I have lots of books about communication. I believe this is a skill needing improvement! The first step to better communication is Humble Inquiry as we ask the right questions and move away from just telling.
Humble yourself today as you begin to be the solution daily.