High school blues: never give up


Were you ever told that you did not have what it takes to succeed at school, or perhaps at a sport, or playing a musical instrument?

If you were in school in the 1950s and 60s, it was not uncommon to hear students receiving this sort of negative communication. There was no concern with upsetting a student’s self-esteem by criticising their performance. Growing up in Canada I had to contend with ongoing criticism of my school performance.

elyIn the Province of Ontario, high school consisted of 13 grades – if you wanted to attend university. If you only completed grade 12, it was considered to be Junior Matriculation that allowed you to attend trade schools or to try your luck on the job market. The school that I attended was, academically, a very tough school. Teachers were strict and they did not put up with the antics that go on in the schools today. If you misbehaved, detentions were in order, and I certainly had my share. If you did not do your homework, there was hell to pay. I can remember a math teacher – Mr. Gates – who had me up in front of the class on a number of occasions, writing out my mathematical solutions on the blackboard in front of the class, merely because my homework was incomplete.

While I was a good student in primary school, in high school, I was challenged. As a teenager, my mind was occupied with girls and playing pool. I suppose my hormones were running rampant at the time. When I failed grade 12, my parents decided to take me to a psychologist to be assessed as to my abilities.

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I can still remember her to this day. She put me through two days of testing to which was to determine my IQ and where my skills lay. I recall that I did not take the whole thing seriously. After the two days, my parents and I sat down to learn the results. The psychologist stated that based on the tests, I was not likely to pass grade 12 on the second try and even if I did, grade 13 would be a stretch. She said university was out of the question. My father immediately wanted me to sign up for a trade school, while my mother felt I could do much better, she had faith in me.

The outcome was that I passed grade 12 on the second try. I also managed to get a 61% average in grade 13 despite taking the most difficult subjects for which I garnered ten credits. I just managed to get accepted into university where I took a Bachelor of Science course majoring in zoology. With each year, my grades continued to rise. By my third year, I had a B average. I then went to chiropractic college that was a four-year course, and I got on the Dean’s list with an A average.

Looking back, I believe that something that psychologist said spurred me to take action. In today’s world that psychologist might not have a job because it seems we want to wrap students in cotton wool. We are to encourage everyone even if they are failing. I believe that there is a balance that falls between the two extremes.

I did prove that psychologist wrong and what I learned is, to never give up. If you have a vision or a goal do not give up on it whether you are 25 or 65. We can manifest greatness with both commitment and hard work.


Were you given negative criticism in your school years? What did you do about it? How has it affected your life today? Tell us in the comments below.