On exams and the future

Something I wrote for the members of The Village; a great FB page giving virtual expression to the real wisdom that it takes a village to raise a child .

On exams and the future
I’ve been reading with empathy and interest the posts about exams, and the natural concerns that we all have when our kids slack off or seem to be totally disengaged. Please god, we think, can they not just do it?! Please don’t let them fail.
On the continuum of parenting, I sometimes think that, in general, how we handle our children’s exams is influenced by both ends of a spectrum that has nurture on the one side and control on the other.
Watching from the sidelines as our children tackle this request from the world to perform in order to be rewarded, throws up not only all of our own performance-for-reward anxieties, but also sometimes shows the fault lines in our own experiences of what is required to be successful.
My own early rewards were for academic performance, so I’ve often defaulted to that safety net when parenting . This despite knowing on the basis of evidence that the
C-streamers often employ the A-streamers. And then the struggle really begins.
But, slowly, and as my own parenting and career journey has unfolded , and my children have matured, a new narrative has entered our conversations. This is, for the sake of brevity and easy consumption, best summarised like this :

  1. You are here (on the planet) to fulfill your potential. The planet desperately needs you to do so.
  2. Your potential stretches way beyond academic performance.
  3. What the content of that potential is, will be revealed to you throughout your life. Now, we can only see a small part of it.
  4. The world of work is tough, and requires exceptional resilience .
  5. See these exams as a test of your resilience mostly . You can always redo them if you don’t get the results you need or want, but save yourself that pain if you can.
  6. Know that I truly believe that you are here so that the divine purpose of the universe can be fulfilled, and how you contribute to that will be unique as it is for everyone.
  7. And, finally , my financial commitment to you is 15 years of free education at the best institutions I can afford . My emotional commitment to you is infinite. Use both as much as you can.

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