Reflections On My Own Education & How My Careers Advice was Crap!

Recently I spent a portion of the day poring over my old high school reports and after digesting 6 years of education condensed into a neat paragraph per subject I feel like I've gleaned a few interesting things from them. It's funny that, when read individually each year, these things just weren't noticeable at all but when read back to back certain patterns emerge, in fact you could say they are almost glaringly obvious now.

For starters, consistently across the 6 years these phrases crept up again and again:

Love the Artwork?? 

I was frequently praised for my "good attitude", being hardworking, organised and pleasant, all positive so far, yet there were always undertones of not doing as well as expected particularly in exams, I was criticised for being too quiet in class and I apparently had trouble applying concepts to topics (no change there then).

interestingly though the overall focus on every report was how I wasn't living up to expectations in my exams and needed to study more/revise better/do more practice on old exam papers etc etc.

Surely in those 6 years someone must have thought 'this kid just aint good at exams'???

There's a little part of me that feels sad for my younger self, going through school thinking I was crap academically, never quite good enough. Yet now re-reading these I've found little glimmers of hope, the true me, my actual strengths. Honestly all this information would have been much more useful when I was 20 but who re-reads their school reports really?

It's certainly made me question the guidance that young people get in schools. As part of careers we were given a large book full of jobs and their descriptions to look through and that was about it (although maybe things have changed now?). No dedicated teacher chatting to other teachers finding out what you're good at, where your strengths lie etc, and what a huge shame that is. Imagine a school where they actually put resources into actively pinpointing your interests with you, finding your 'element' as Ken Robinson would put it, I certainly could have benefited from that I'm sure.

For example, it turns out my best marks and comments were in design and technology something I just never realised I was particularly good at, having that pointed out to me may have resulted in a complete change in direction.

The other thing that I noticed was how I gelled with a teacher was so important to how well I did in a subject. I was unfortunate enough to have been stuck with a particular teacher I just couldn't settle with for a few years in a couple of subjects, once that teacher changed wow, things improved majorly.

Grab a brew and your old reports and get reading!
I have over the year had a good few wobbles in my decision to home ed, reading these however has certainly helped me realise more reasons why I want to continue as long as I can.
If I can help guide my children from a better position in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, if I can more fluidly nurture their true passions and exclude things they really have no interest in then maybe they can forge a successful and, more importantly, happy career ahead of them. It's hard for a parent to really know these kinds of details if they are relying on a busy teacher who has multiple kids to monitor and it's no surprise really that the kinds of career advice I got was what it was, I understand the limitations of school funding and time, and feel for overworked teachers, yet if they could put as much effort into guiding young people rather than having to constantly focus on grades, grades, grades then maybe we'd have a happier, more satisfied and successful workforce today?

So when you get a spare few minutes on a sunny Sunday afternoon, grab a coffee, biscuit and all your reports and honestly try reading through them. See what patterns emerge for you and if there are any surprises, and then if you have older kids make them read theirs!!!

I'd love to hear if other people find it useful and discover things about themselves they never realised. It's sad really that it's taken me all these years to realise I had clues to some real passions all those years ago and yet never quite fitted the pieces together....


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