A Christian Science perspective: Everyone has the inherent right and ability to demonstrate excellence at school and beyond.

School can be such an exciting place to be: Stimulating opportunities meet up with energetic learners. But what if there are problems at school? Is the path to success just inevitably hard for some?

When our daughter was in the third grade, her teacher devoted the year to character-building, and the curriculum focused on the students writing and performing an opera together. By year’s end, they had refined skills of cooperation, respect, and selflessness, but they hadn’t learned much math. When she started the fourth grade, our daughter fell behind, and she struggled to pass any of her math tests. At the first parent-teacher conference I was told that if she did not do well on the next test, she would be placed in a class for slow learners.

Of course I wanted to do all I could to help my daughter, including with her need for the necessary academic teaching of math. Many times before, though, I had found that acknowledging her inherent spirituality helped me better support her expression of youthful energy and intelligence in the most productive way, whether at school or elsewhere. So as I drove home from the meeting with the teacher, I prayed.

Christian Science explains that every one of us is the complete spiritual expression of God, divine Mind. The uniqueness and intelligence of this limitless Mind are expressed in and as its creation. No one is simply one of a series on an assembly line. Our identity is secure in Mind, including opportunities to express qualities such as originality and ability.

I considered how Mind manifests its attributes throughout creation. Everyone has an innate ability to discover the brilliance of Mind and express qualities such as understanding, intelligence, and logic. God’s attributes are fully individualized in us – not parceled out in bits and pieces. At God’s table, everyone is fully served, even while each one’s experience at the table is naturally one of a kind. Even a small understanding of this can protect children – and adults – from limits and stereotypes that might seem to block opportunities to succeed.

I continued praying with these ideas, recognizing that God had prepared a path forward for our daughter to express her natural intelligence. This lifted any fear that her potential could be thwarted because her previous school experience had been unique, or for any other reason.

That evening, I talked to our daughter about the qualities of Mind that God has given her to express, and encouraged her to know herself as the intelligent reflection of Mind. I never told her what the teacher had said. The next day she passed the math test, and no more mention was ever made of remedial classes or being labeled as “slow.” Rather, from that point on she continued to study and apply herself, and she always got exceptional grades in math.

We can pray to recognize everyone’s infinite spiritual potential to express intelligence. Everyone has the inherent right and ability to demonstrate excellence at school and beyond.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.