Action – the ONLY path from dream to reality as young people face GCSE and A-level exams in the summer

Action – the ONLY way for dreams to become reality for your teenager as they face GCSE and A-level exams in the summer

Dreams are very nice and, in fact, they are very important as there is no point being alive if you can’t dream. As parents, in our childhood, we dreamed of what we wanted to be when we grew up. Many parents are grateful for what they have achieved, but it is our wish that our children achieve much higher than we did. We have dreams for our children and we can guide them, using lessons that we have learned – both positive and negative!

One question we may want to ask ourselves is: How important is action in order for dreams to become reality for our teenagers? The concept of time-management is a misnomer as, in reality, there is no such thing. No one can possibly manage time, because time is a like a 90-ton train coming at you and we’d better get out of its way, otherwise you’ll get crushed!  What we become or achieve is really about how we manage ourselves in the time we have available. If you think about a specific amount of time – say two years away, that time will come irrespective of what you choose to do over that period. You had better manage yourself well so you get what you need to do done, over that time.

We all – both adults and children – have good intentions and we know what we need to do. In reality, we do not get as much done as we could, in the limited amount of time we have available.

You can learn from failure as well as from success…

It is always nice to speak about success and those who have done well academically. What may not be so cool is to speak about failure, but it is the reality of life and in no other area is it more pronounced than in education. After all, educational attainment in the mid to late teenage years is a label that lasts a lifetime, as it’s usually the yardstick by which people are measured. In any field of endeavour, there are many lessons to be learned from people who are successful, which is very obvious. What are often overlooked are the lessons that can be learned from those who have not been successful. It is more bearable to learn from the failure of others than to experience failure by oneself, although this cannot be avoided totally. One way to put it is to change the word ‘failure’ to ‘lesson’.

In my 26 years in the secondary education sector, most of my teaching years have been in private and grammar schools, but I also taught in good comprehensive school (now academies). I’ve been privileged to have taught some of the highest achieving young people in Britain. Whilst the vast majority of them have passed with flying colours and have proceeded onto decent universities, sadly, some of those bright young people drifted around for the most part of their secondary education and ended up with mediocre exam grades at GCSE and A-level. In fact, some failed woefully.

Success in exams is not a sprint, but a marathon

My observations over the years show me that exam success is not a sprint event, but more of a double marathon! I have seen certain commonality between young people who have achieved high grades at GCSE and A-level. I’m not necessarily speaking about academic ability here, but about the way they approach their studies and other things they do in their everyday life as a whole. When I think about this crucial matter, one, not-so-cool, word that comes to my mind is ‘habit’. In other words, the way they behave and what they do in their everyday life.

Nurture or nature?

It would be wrong to say that all those who achieve high exam grades come from a particular type of family or live in certain places or are from a particular social class. I will go even further in that it is also wrong to say that they are all bright sparks academically, as they are simply not. At least, not all of them are and the percentage of those who I would call ‘gifted’ amongst high academic achievers, if I’m to use that rather overused word, is not much greater than in the general population. I am a strong believer that, even in academia, nurture plays a greater role in success than nature. Natural academic ability is useful in doing well at school, but it plays lesser role than most people believe.

This claim is backed up by some of the points I’ve made above. I’ve written extensively about this particular point in the past, so I’m not going to dwell too much on it here. Below is a  couple of links to some of my previous blogpost that are related.

In my final and last blogpost in this series, I will go into the specifics of how so many teenagers invest their most valuable resource – time. As a parent, I’m sure you know what I’m thinking – mobile phones, other electronic devices and the Internet!  The title of that blogpost is: Is Technology a Blessing or a Curse? You Decide! I will also be offering practical advice on how teenagers can revise for their GCSEs and A-levels.

Speak to you in my next blogpost.