2015…The Year of Persistence…

I love a good inspirational book. Sometimes these are in the form of great novels, sometimes they are educational non-fiction or journals. And then, sometimes, they are in the form of small inspirational quotation books.

There are many small quotation books in any book shop and I love them. They give me little pearls of wisdom at a moments notice. I also love having the quotes and writings of amazing people throughout history, like Shakespeare, Einstein, Hellen Keller, Aristotle, Nelson Mandela, in the palm of my hand.

After not being able to resist some new palm sized pages of inspiration (It’s Never Too Late… 174 simple acts to change your life by Patrick Lindsay); I found this very interesting statement by the author:

“It’s never too late…to be a late developer:
Set your own timetable.
Don’t allow others to dictate your pace.
Benchmarks are for average people.
You’re an individual.
You have your own individual rate of growth.
Take the pressure off.
Allow things to develop naturally.
It’s not important when you get there.
what matters is that you get there.”

This is quite a shocking statement when you compare it to our busy lives and the generally competitive nature of our society.

In an age where the sign of true success is to do everything at a younger age; to be a singing sensation by 14, to circumnavigate the globe by 17 and to be a millionaire by 22 are apparently all required. We all must be overnight successes or success must come quickly or we must not be good at that and give up or move on.

I also find this rush and push to achieve a great pressure on our children. The competitive nature of acquiring skills and knowledge is impressed on our children at an early age. Loving parents often inadvertently constantly compare their children’s achievements to other children.

Initially, I believe, this concern is warranted; we all want our children to develop at a healthy rate. However, as children grow and learn, this focus on natural, individual development quickly changes to an unhealthy focus on academic development.

Doing flash cards of sight words with babies, knowing the alphabet, numbers to 100 and reading at as early age as possible is, apparently, all required. Parents live in fear of not “doing enough” and are constantly comparing with others.

I have been asked so many times by concerned parents about what academic knowledge and skills are required before starting Kindergarten or Preparatory. Should children know their alphabet, numbers, sight words…the list goes on. Remember Kindergarten and Prep are not compulsory in Queensland, so technically, no particular academic skills should be required for Year One entry. I wonder, however, how a child would cope with the fast paced academic curriculum if they came straight from home into Year One? How would the teachers cope?

I have previously discussed this topic in my Blog “The Minefield of School Readiness”
https://www.rose3.com.au/blog/the-minefield-of-school-readiness/ but as the beginning of the school year approaches; thoughts of academic readiness come to the fore.
Remember that originally, mainstream schooling was created to educate the masses for work in industry. Now it is expected to educate every child in everything and proof is required. Benchmarks, testing, reports, comparisons, standardised expectations by the end of Year levels are required of children that can have up to 12 months age difference. How is this even possible?

We need to stop and consider the so called “Late Bloomer”. People such as Einstein and Richard Branson did not seem to be adversely affected by failing school. When they finally “hit their straps” the sky was the limit. Maybe that was because they were not limited by benchmarks and assessments. Maybe a lot of limitless thinking may be required in the future to solve problems.

I think healthy competition, goals setting and expectations are excellent and required in life, but when parents are crying and yelling over children’s report cards and in parent/teacher interviews (when their children are doing well but not getting A’s!) or children are permanently mentally scarred from the stress and experiences of schooling; something is going wrong. Many have thoughts of worthlessness and failure…not wanting to try or continue because they may not be able to achieve what is expected.

One of the most important skills/attitudes children need do well at school and in life is persistence. Some lessons in life are just hard, we all need persistence (with a good dose of love, support and encouragement) to get there…in the end.

Happy New Year everyone…may you receive all the love, support and encouragement you require to achieve your goals, and pass it on to others.

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