Having worked within the education system as a coach, and motivational speaker I’m aware of the pressures faced by students.
When I first started sharing my knowledge within schools, I was shocked by what I discovered – a huge accumulation or issues including low eating disorders, low self-confidence and self-esteem, anxiety and stress made themselves known.
Many students compared themselves to others, and it wasn’t uncommon to hear, “I’ll never make anything of myself because I’m not clever enough”.
It quickly became obvious that not achieving an A* grade was a measure of self-worth for many.
For others, the pressure to achieve an A* caused much stress and anxiety.
My concern escalated while talking with a teenager whose confidence had been knocked by an experience in the classroom. A projector screen on the wall showed students grades and revealed whether they were ‘on target’ for their predicted grades. The students that were deemed to be ‘on target’ were lit up in green. The students that were below their targets were lit up in red.
This particular teenager had friends who were predicted C grades; on target their names were lit up in green. The teenage girl was herself predicted an A* but falling slight below and only achieving a B, her name was lit up in red.
As if that wasn’t enough, she was then asked to go to a special meeting to discuss why she wasn’t achieving her target. Can you imagine the damage this did to this child’s confidence?
Installing confidence and self-esteem within teenagers must be a priority.
Teenagers need to know that their life will never be determined by grades, but by attitude.
There is a huge misconception that in order to be successful, students must achieve the highest grades. This is a challenge for those that struggle academically, and their true talents are often overlooked.
Looking back on my school days, I smile. I now understand that the class joker was disruptive to hide his academic struggles. This particular man is now running his own very successful business, employing many staff.
A girl that ‘failed’ all exams and left school with no qualifications now runs his own national company.
It’s not hard to find other evidence which proves that top grades do not equal a top job.
Simon Cowell left school with the equivalent of one ‘O Level” and Lord Alan Sugar left school with the same. Successful actor Quentin Tarantino dropped out of school at the age of 15. Albert Einstein was labelled a ‘poor student’! Grades were not and are still not necessary for success.
If you are a parent reading this, then please share this knowledge with your children. Let them know that intelligence is not determined by grades. Ensure that they know that a positive attitude is more important than an A*.
If your son or daughter is overwhelmed by a choice of career, then re-assure them that no career has to be forever; they can always choose to change.
If your child is keen to go to university then support them in their decision but know that a degree isn’t necessary for them to live a good life, earning a good income.
Many graduates end up working for those with very few qualifications and you don’t have to look far to find this evidence.
Your teenagers’ positive attitude will bring them far more success than any qualification, and as a parent or teacher you can aid this.
Give praise when it’s deserved, and don’t try to motivate a teenager by telling them, “You are going to fail your exams and then struggle to find a job”. This approach does not work, and strips away confidence. What they hear repeatedly they start to believe.
Focus on their strengths and their talents and build their confidence by celebrating every small achievement.
Love them and listen to them and understand their needs.
Acknowledge that what you want for them, may not be what they want for themselves and support them in all of their decisions.
Alleviate their stress and anxiety by ensuring that they know that their examination results do not define them or their life.
And make it clear that an A* attitude will take them further than an A* qualification.
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