Last week Pip finished school for 2009. Next year he moves into the senior years, where everything counts towards his university entrance.
Right back in the middle of the year Pip and I attended parent-teacher interviews. His teachers were all very frank in telling him that his average to good marks were not a reflection of his intellect, but rather of his effort. He is always respectful of others, his behaviour is exemplary, but his dedication to his social development at school far outweighs his dedication to his academic requirements.
My son is a very clever boy and, truthfully, school has never challenged his intellect. He has always been true to himself and has never really felt the need to please others. My Pete and I have always encouraged him to be a free thinker and have never expected him to make choices just to please others. I believe that this is very important in life, but doesn’t always fit with the school system. We don’t pressure our children to achieve. We know they are good, honest, hard-working people and that is more important to us than academic achievements.
Philip wants to go to university and knows what he has to do to get there. While we will offer him encouragement and support, we won’t take responsibility for what needs to be done.
Following the mid-year parent-teacher interviews Pip took some time for reflection, lots of parental counselling was done, reassurances were offered and it was made clear that he needed to make his own decisions about what to do next.
Today his end of year report card arrived. His average to good marks are now good to amazingly good marks. Every teacher has rated his behaviour as an A. (This is what I check first.) In all subjects except one his effort is rated as an A. Teachers have made comment about his maturity, conscientiousness and work ethic.
My very favourite comment comes from his art teacher, “An imaginative student whose work is always original.”
Right now Pip feels so powerful. He set his mind to make a change to his behaviour and it resulted in improved academic results. The life lesson he learnt from this can’t be under-estimated. He is beaming at his own success and the knowledge that he did this. His decisions and his efforts made the difference.
I couldn’t be more proud of him.
* All illustrations by Philip Petersen. Taken from his original pen and ink drawings following the path of a paper aeroplane.