Who Are We Letting Keep Score?

Arguing is normal right?

I mean my three-year old son and eight year old daughter argue quite frequently. Sometimes they are pretending and sometimes it gets real. In fact, recently my son has started walking up to my daughter and asking her if she wants to play Fight. It is a game where they kick and punch and push each other. Now they always insist it is only pretend. Yet we all know how this game ends.

But the other day, after hearing me warn them numerous times to be careful, my son asked my daughter if she wanted to play Best Friends.


Did my ears deceive me?

Does this mean that the Harper House will now and forever be a calm oasis of happiness?

Not hardly.

Fight is played much more often in my house than Best Friends.

But maybe, just maybe I can start gradually tipping the balance in favor or Best Friends.

How does this relate to education?

Let me explain.

I do my best to keep up with and follow as many members of my PLN as possible. I read blog posts, participate in hour-long chats and I check my Twitter feed probably more than I should. And of all the things that I read about, observe and/or watch there is one thing that brings me more joy than anything else by far. There is not even a close second!

People enjoying each other’s company

Or as my son would say,  “people playing Best Friends”

Do you ever notice the happiness on your PLN’s members faces when they are together? It is wonderful! The conferences, the edcamps and the professional development are all great. But the best moments always seem to be when folks are just together and they are happy because that is enough. In fact it’s not just enough, that is IT!

But are we sending this message to our students and for that matter our staff? Or are we sending the message that the ultimate goal is a high test score or a perfect performance rating? Certainly everyone wants to reach their full potential, but at what expense?

“There are times I think I’m doing things on principle, but mostly I just do what feels good. But that’s a principle too.” Brian Andreas

Do we always have to keep score?

Does there always need to be a winner?

Do we always need rankings and ratings?

I sure hope not!

You see, we are able to store vast amounts of numbers in our heads. But that’s as far as they will ever get. Numbers never reach the heart. And they don’t even get near the soul. They are locked out. And eventually they realize that they have no way of getting in. So they vanish into thin air. Making room for the next futile attempt.

Now close your eyes for just a moment and think back to your happiest memories from the past few years. Do you see numbers or are you feeling moments? I am fairly certain I know your answer to this question.

I can show you what I saw and there were no numbers involved!

     bubbles            aruba

bailey and derek skins

In the end maybe we do need to keep score,

and maybe there does need to be a winner,

and maybe I do have to have a ranking.

Okay, I can live that.

But here are my scorekeepers, my referees and my raters. And you know what? I feel pretty darn good about how it’s going to turn out!




  1. Jon, another great post that brings everything back to positive relationships. Thanks for always having a positive outlook on education and life!

  2. This is a great post John. I love the photos also! You really get it! A former superintendent of mine often quoted, we count what matters, and what matters counts. I think there is a big problem with the way we focus so much on test scores. Isn’t there some other way for us to measure learning?

  3. Another great post, Jon. I don’t think competition is a bad thing, and I think a person who is competitive can also be collaborative. Some of it is about perception, and as you point out, it’s the perception of the scorekeeper that matters. In the end, the final score doesn’t matter. It’s the relationships built along the way that are important. Sorry if I’m rambling… this post hits home in so many ways…

    Thank you for always bringing it back to relationships and love,

  4. Jon, I used to think that the number of “followers” I had needed to increase – that THAT was the goal. HAH! How terrible! What about the kids? What “scores” do they keep track of? How many friends they make the first day of school? How many As they can get? How many times they can be sent to the office?? Who knows what they keep a score of… we should be asking them, and then trying to knock those scores off their “to do” list! 😉 Thanks for this post, Jon – you’ve got me thinking again!

Leave a Reply to Keith Howell Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.