Brother shares valu­able les­son

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - with greg whit­byy @greg­whitby

DO YOU won­der how peo­ple with sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences – same par­ents, same schools – can be so dif­fer­ent and end up with very dif­fer­ent lives?

Hav­ing spent 40 years in ed­u­ca­tion, I often re­flect on what causes some stu­dents to achieve and oth­ers to fall through the cracks.

What mo­ti­vates me in my work is ac­tu­ally very close to home, and it came via a con­ver­sa­tion I had with my brother a few years ago.

Over a cof­fee we ended up rem­i­nisc­ing about our mem­o­ries of schooling in the 1960s. I was a year ahead and we went to the same schools.

I liked school, I did well both aca­dem­i­cally and so­cially and those ex­pe­ri­ences set me off on a path that has led me to where I am to­day.

My brother, on the other hand, re­vealed he not only “hated school” but felt like he had “failed school”.

To say I was shocked is an un­der­state­ment. I never re­alised how pro­foundly those ex­pe­ri­ences of school had in­flu­enced the course of my brother’s life. Life may have been dif­fer­ent had his ex­pe­ri­ences been sim­i­lar to mine, had he a teacher who asked him why he was dis­en­gaged, had we known how un­happy he was.

The tragedy is my broth- er’s story is not un­com­mon. Like many young peo­ple, the one-size-fits-all sys­tem failed him.

We may have both gone to a “good” school, it wasn’t a good school for my brother.

I wished I had that dis­cus­sion with my brother a long time ago but his re­sponse is what con­tin­ues to drive me.

When stu­dents aren’t achiev­ing, we as par­ents and ed­u­ca­tors need to ask why. Suc­cess for some stu­dents, and by im­pli­ca­tion, fail­ure for oth­ers, is never good enough.

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