I hope we can all teach our grandkids this 25



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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.

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.

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?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Academic results are only a (important) portion of life skills but understanding the way communities work and feel is more important. If only our politicians had more life skills we would be a much more harmonious community.

  2. Very true.
    I just asked two of my lovely grandchildren .. 8 and 11 .. What they would do if they were sitting on a bus or train and an adult was standing.
    They looked at me blankly.
    They know now after a very long talk with me.
    Good manners cost nothing.

  3. What a fine young man your grandson is and how proud you must be of him. I continually talk to my young grandkids about old fashioned life values in the hope that they too might take some of them on board and turn out just as he has.

  4. My grandchildren are still quite young, all at school, but the oldest starts at secondary school this year. All of them excel in the academic side of school. They go to an excellent primary school. They are also well into sports. The oldest is going to a private school, where she must take part in sport as well as her academic classes. I really think it’s up to the parents to ensure the children get the right education for their needs. It’s exactly what my parents did for me, and exactly what I did for mine. Two of mine changed secondary schools to get the appropriate education. They are all successful and want their children to be successful too.

  5. Great story and a balanced lad. Thats all you can teach them when young, about empathy, social services, respect. Its a plus if they do well at school but doesn’t make u a good person.

  6. My precious grandson was having problems at school (he has Aspergers) I asked him what was the most important word in the world. He replied “love”. Ok , sez I, good! !BUT THE most important words are “respect” and “”responsibility”. The 2 “R,s”. He is now 24 and repeats these words to me frequently! He is lovely! X

  7. With my grand children we have emphasised gifts. No….they might not set the academic world on fire but they do have the gift of compassion….empathy…….kindness……sense of justice……..respect……loyalty. These gifts are celebrated as much as academic excellence. All five of my grandchildren have been awarded the Principals Integrity award. They also achieve academically but our family values integrity as the greatest award.

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