I am taking a bit of a diversion and this entry will not feature any cycling! I guess it would fall under the, ‘musings’ category.
I just want to take a moment to write about exams, specifically A levels, and write about them from one parents perspective. That would be me.
My eldest daughter, Becka, just yesterday went along with her fellow scholars to collect their results. For anyone reading this outside of the UK when a high school student has completed their time at school and gained their certificates of secondary education they can then choose to stay on and study A levels. Three or four subjects are chosen and essays and coursework are completed over two years followed by the final exams. These results can then determine which University a student may attend, this is decided by the grades attained in specific subjects. University applications are made before the exams are sat and places offered and usually conditional on attaining the required entry grades. But get this, the university knows before the student whether they have got the required grades to study with them or not and informs them either, ‘congratulations’ or ‘unfortunately’! So if you got an, ‘unfortunately’ you already know your grades are not good before you even tear open the envelope! That’s harsh!
Becka took the decision, after speaking to me and her mum and teachers, to take a year out after these exams. She had applied to a number of Universities and had all her applications approved and even had a couple of unconditional offers. However, the last couple of years of intensive study and stress had taken their toll and so she was looking forward to some time out and enjoying life.
Stress levels had been running high but just under the surface. I think we were all trying our hardest to not let on and act ‘normal’ (whatever normal is!). As the day approached stomach knots were tightening and then the day was here. Mum, Dad and Sister Alice all got up to take Becka to school to get her results, Team Bex! Dan decided to stay in bed! Becka got her envelope and came out to us and opened it. My first though was WOWEE!!! But something was wrong, I could sense that Becka was not feeling the same way.
I spent the rest of that day and part of the night trying to get my head around what was wrong. As parents we have always made sure our kids know that we are proud of them, whatever they do. We know that they will try to do their best and that’s all we expect. After talking with Becka it became clear. I am going to use an Olympic metaphor, because this helped me understand things a whole lot better. Sports men and women train hard, REALLY HARD, in their chosen sport. The motivation is to do the best, to BE the best, to go for gold and for so many of them anything less may as well be a fail.
Becka and her best friend are now on their way to Sri Lanka for two weeks to help in orphanages and also do some turtle conservation. Our hope for them both is to have the most incredible time and to grow as young adults and enjoy life and to BE themselves. I goofed off at school, which is my only regret in life. However, I proudly hold a degree from the University of Life and learned that who you are is not determined by what you do or what grades you have. Character and honour, faith and love, consideration and respect; for me these are some of the things worth working hard at and I am still working on my degree.
Oh, and if I am in earshot of anyone who tries to claim that exams are getting easier, watch out, I’m a dad!