Like many of you reading this, my grandkids are back to school in two weeks. Most of them have had too much fun on holidays and don’t want to go back, but my eldest grandson can’t wait. He’s about to start his final year of school and we’re so proud of him.
He told us all on Christmas Day that he is going to make this year his most successful yet. He attends a private, all boys school and his grade has been dubbed the “smartest year they’ve had in over a decade”. The school is expecting big things from this year level and has already announced that they anticipate over 30 students will fall in the top 2 per cent of the state. My grandson won’t be one of them though. He hasn’t ever been academically inclined to the point of scholastic greatness, but he is a hard worker and sits in the high B category for results. He hasn’t received an academic award before but he has received awards for other things.
His year is under a lot of pressure to “make the school proud” so when he told us his goal for this year, we asked him what that meant. He told us, he wants to be the best house captain he could be. He explained how he wanted to introduce two additional charity events to the school – one supporting a local cause and one supporting an international aid charity. He told us he wants to volunteer in the reading program for the grade fives who have difficulty. He told us he wanted to represent the school in the swimming and cross-country team. He told us he wanted to perform in the combined school musical and that he wanted to play in the rugby first XV.
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None of these things have anything to do with academia – you wouldn’t even know that he’s under pressure to lift his marks this year, and that makes me so proud.
So many children, one of his siblings included, put so much pressure on themselves to perform academically in their final years of school. They reject opportunities to make sure they get the best results they can and set themselves up for the future. But the thing is, they aren’t setting themselves up for the future and the value of having a well-rounded education has been lost on academic focus.
When I went to boarding school, it was compulsory to play tennis, do speech and drama and participate in community service. When my husband was at boarding school, it was compulsory for everyone to play rugby and also do community service. These things were compulsory “extra curricular activities” and what did they teach us? They taught us teamwork, commitment, dedication, honesty and friendship.
Academia doesn’t teach you these things. It may teach you things like the biology of the human body or plant cells, mathematics beyond the every day and how to deconstruct texts, but it doesn’t enrich the person.
It concerns me that so many schools, for their own success, focus on creating young men and women with academic intelligence but they do it at the cost of emotional intelligence and the values I mentioned above.
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It makes me so proud that my grandson can still see the value in the things he is committing himself to and I know that so many children out there are just the same – I’m sure you can say your grandkids are too. I just hope that our generation and our children can continue to teach the importance of these things before the art of being a well-rounded person is lost, because at the end of the day they’re the things that will truly make them successful in life.
Tell us, do you think the “well-rounded” education has lost its importance today compared to when we went through school? What would you like to see your grandchildren doing more or less of?