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Monday, 5 May 2014

Monthly Musing - May 2014 - Exam fever

Like many other households with teenagers, ours has become Mission Control for GCSE revision.  Big daughter has been counting down the days until the exams start – and finish.  She has her exam timetable stuck to the wall and every time we see her she has her nose stuck in a book.  It’s hard work and I’m very glad that I’m past all of that – even though some people would return to their schooldays in a flash (and I’m not one of them!), I’m not sure even they would want to face these exams.

The pressure on our young people these days is incredible.  It’s not just about doing well for their own sakes any more, the teachers are also under pressure to get the best results they can for a school that is under its own pressures from the Government’s ever-changing education goalposts.  It sometimes seems to us that the line is blurred over who needs the best results most.

Our tactic in all of this has been to try to keep big daughter as calm as we can.  Yes, of course these exams are important, but there are many of us who have made our way successfully in the world without twelve A* results.  Total burnout at sixteen and a loathing for education is a high price to pay, whatever the goals.  The world is a different place these days, I can hear you say, but what’s important for us and for big daughter is that she is able to do well enough to keep her options open, to be able to follow the educational route that she chooses and to keep a balance between work and play. 

Balance is vital to keep ourselves and our minds healthy.  All work and no play might have its own rewards, but my Dad always says that the graveyards are full of indispensible people.  All play is tempting – but surely a life without purpose would not in the end be much of a life at all. 

Our wish for our big daughter is that she is happy.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t care about her results, or aren’t 100% behind her studies.  We want her to be able to blossom and grow into a life of her own choosing, to be able to make her own informed decisions and to live a life of purpose.  Taking her GCSE exams is the first major step along the way.  I am sure that for big daughter herself, they are simply a hurdle to be overcome before the longest summer holiday and freedom from school that she’s ever had, but that doesn’t really matter.  We are encouraging her to revise as well as she can so that afterwards, she will have no regrets, no “I wish I’d done more of this subject or that subject” conversations with herself. 

I wish good luck to everyone taking exams over the next few months.

4 comments:

  1. Very interesting thoughts. I remember distinctly revising for my GCSE's. I remember the list of exams that I would revisit after each exam to draw through that one with a fat black felt tip. And I remember the feeling of stress, pressure and longing... for a break! It can be such a stress on people so young. As a teacher, I feel fed up about Michael Gove and all his messing about with education, which he seems not to understand at ALL, but the people I feel worst for are the children. Childhood and adolescence should be a time for play, learning and exploration. Not for missing out on all the fun stuff because you're busy drawing diagrams of functional kidneys (information, by the way that has NEVER come in useful to me). Good luck to your Big Daughter. It's good to give it your all so you have no regrets, but it's also good to do something each day which makes YOU happy.

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    1. Wise words Jen, thank you, and so interesting from your teacher's perspective. It all starts next week so that fat black felt tip is at the ready to cross off the first exams! xx

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  2. Eeek, my daughter will be in her Geography exam as I sit here typing, Biology was this morning. I think balance is a sensible approach, they aren't going to mature in to well rounded people if they're blinkered to one thing in life. I've always said to both of mine that they can only do their best, and if that's what they've done, then I'm happy with their results. You can't ask for any more than their best. Good luck to your daughter, I hope she does really well.

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    1. Yes, there was biology this morning for my daughter too, although she chose history and not geography so that exam's not till later in the week. You're absolutely right; we need well-rounded young people and we should be proud of them for doing as well as they can. Good luck to your daughter too! xx

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