Que sera...

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

...sera, whatever will be will be, the future's not ours to see, que sera, sera!

I decided to inject a little fifties glamour whilst attempting to sooth my daughter's pre-GCSE result jitters as I sensed my usual 'whatever happens, nobody died' routine wasn't quite hitting the spot.

Results day dawned and she did fantastically well, or at least I thought she did! Nothing below a C to be seen on the paper print out, let alone a U or a resit to be had.

I was delighted, yet she was disappointed. She managed to hold back the tears until we got in the car and by the time we pulled into the drive we were both bawling. I was deeply saddened and deflated that she felt she could/should have done better. Had I walked out of school on results day with her piece of paper, (more years ago than I'm keen to count), I would have been walking on air.

Unfortunately the pressure to do well at school now is far greater than it ever was and many teenagers' reactions to not achieving what they had hoped for can, actually, be likened to somebody having died.

Maybe I was a very lazy teenager and have matured into a slack parent, as all I ever ask of my children academically, is that they try their best. That was all that was demanded of me - alongside behaving morally and courteously. Or maybe I'm just a realist.

Not everybody can be a straight A student, well at least not naturally and that's not to say that those who aren't, are thick. We are all unique, have our strengths and weaknesses and develop at our own pace. Everybody responds differently to particular learning styles and employing these varied strategies, in large groups, in a classroom can be difficult. It's destined to become more so with Mr Gove's education reform legacy, but don't get me started on that.

When I suggested my daughter was being 'too hard on herself' she retorted 'would you rather I didn't care?' Needless to say I wouldn't and if I'm honest I'm praying that some of her aspiration rubs off on her younger brothers who are currently her complete antithesis. There has to be a balance though and achievements however big or small should be celebrated: not only on merit but on effort and the limitations of the individual.

'I could have done better' was the next lament. 'If only' is the most useless phrase in the English language. The desire to change what is past is fruitless. It's gone, done and you can't change it. Draw a line under it and, if necessary, learn from the experience and move on. 'Onwards and upwards' says I, 'in September you will have new challenges in the form of A' Levels but you will be studying subjects you have choosen'. I am, after further discussion, comforted that she now appears to have some concept of the increased workload and jump from GCSE to A' Level and is under no illusion it's not going to be a walk in the park.

In an attempt to contextualise the situation and present the big picture I advised her that high school exams are merely stepping stones and out in the real world they quickly become irrelevant. Even university degrees can appear to have little bearing on some people's career paths. What our educational journey should do, in whatever form it takes, is assist in defining and demonstrating what we excel in and our ability to overcome our weaknesses and 'get by' in those areas.

Between the tears and the chat I was rewarded with a smile and a chuckle when I pointed out that all this wisdom, perhaps worryingly, was proffered by a nurse without an O' Level equivalent in Maths or Biology.