Exam results day – stress, comparisons, low self-esteem

Exams: these are not what life is about. Reducing stress for children should be our focus – not exam grades.

In the UK, thousands of kids will wake up to their GCSE results. Some will feel elated, most will feel rocked by ‘not being good enough’.

I don’t know why we are using such old fashioned methods to measure how well children are learning. Children are being set up to feel compared, judged and boxed according to an overall grade marked by an anonymous adjudicator in a biased and subjective exam system. What we are teaching is out of date. How we are assessing learning is archaic. And it all works to close children down and make them feel inadequate or not good enough somehow.

This year my beautiful, smart and gentle son experienced significant levels of wobble during the year. It was his year for GCSE’s. It was factors external to school that were the root of the swirly emotions but the exam year and turning 16 was not helping. This time of growing into being a young man from a boy is complex and with little support in our current society systems.

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As a working mum, I had to balance full time working with looking after a pressured 16 year old. We did it and made it out to the other side. I saw more than ever that none of this matters.  Life rolls on. Experiences pop up. Opportunities come by. Having a good and happy life is not in the least related to the exam grades and how many A’s were generated. We need to stop suggesting to children that this is the case.

Life is about relationships, making connections, developing communities, learning through sharing, following passions and having fun. Doing good, spreading joy. Filling out boring exam papers in limited time conditions is not it.

I have been lucky enough to have an amazingly interesting career – working with the top talent in the world, writing books, running companies, travelling the world, helping people write and bring creative ideas to life.  Not one of the things I have done was affected by what exam grades I got.  I have had a high achieving career but never grasped a high achieving set of exam results.

If you or your children have results coming through, let’s not worry or over generalise the importance of them. Step over that and let’s move on in the direction of  joy and our hearts.

We are not even going to log to the results. Because it just doesn’t matter.

Education needs to change and become a lot more fun and enjoyable. Without the stress.

The last thing our kids needs is more stress.

Time to go and play instead.

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