Keep the matric drama in perspective as we’re all unique
If we measure success on the benchmark of matric results then we do a massive disservice to so many who will fall short of those expectations
THIS is the time of year that draws an enormous sense of anticipation out of parents and their children. In just a few pupils it creates a sense of dread too and in some an overwhelming sense of their inadequacies.
People develop and evolve over their lives. To measure someone on a moment, a snapshot in November often proves an inaccurate assessment of that individual.
How many school failures become great success later in life? How many school successes never reach that potential expected of their 18-year-old selves?
I am a marker and moderator of many years’ experience and I have just returned from a week in Joburg where I spent my days guiding a team of markers in their assessment of the 12500 Independent Examinations Board exam scripts written by matric English pupils who write under the auspices of the IEB.
There are a far greater number who write the National Senior Certificate papers. Both systems provide an astute and highly credible assessment that is rigorous and demanding of pupils and assessors.
Whenever I interview a new pupil looking to come to Woodridge College and Preparatory School I ask them to hold up their index finger. Being an English teacher by profession, I can’t help but add some drama to the scene. I look carefully at the finger that is being held up. I have no doubt that the boy or girl and their parents at that point are wondering what I’m up to. But what I’m doing is drawing together a critically important message that everyone should be hearing.
After carefully scrutinising the digit, I remark: “Yes, just as I thought. I have never seen a fingerprint just like yours… and I won’t ever see one just like it again.”
You see everyone is an individual: priceless, precious, wonderful, unique, special and very, very dear to all the people who are associated to that child. We tend to pin everything on certain specific moments in our lives and it breaks my heart when I read in the paper of the suicides that take place after matric results are released.
Every year it’s the same. Every year people measure their self-worth on the results of the exams written over a month in November. We aren’t summed up by these marks. They don’t represent who we are and while they are important. There are countless people who have risen to extraordinary successes on the back of dire scholastic performance.
We need to keep everything in perspective. Matric is important. Academics are vital and should be prioritised as the gold standard that all good schools do offer.
While sound academics, coupled with sporting and cultural arms form the bedrock of an holistic education, it is vital that we acknowledge that not everyone will measure up to the success of the few in this matric gladiatorial arena.
Children should at the primary core enjoy school. If they enjoy school they will perform better. They will be encouraged to make the most of their opportunities.
If they live in fear, as many do, of underperforming on the academic stage, then we do them a disservice.
If we measure success on the benchmark of matric results, then we do a massive disservice to so many who will fall short of those expectations.
Children are special. Whether they get an “A” for AP maths or an “E” for life science, each child is a priceless and unique individual who can make an invaluable contribution to the vast tapestry that makes up humankind.
To measure someone on what happens between the start and end of November of one’s matric year is to critically underestimate human potential and it is one of the reasons why our society isn’t close to reaching its potential.
Children are special. No matter what marks they get. Let’s get the message out.
While they are important, our marks don’t sum up who we are