I have a teenage daughter of seventeen who’s taking International Baccalaureate. International Baccalaureate as you can understand by the name is a two years program for international students aiming at giving the opportunity to the students attending it, studying in any country and university they choose, that their grades will allow them to. It is a very tough program simulating the first year a of a Bachelors Degree and it is not taught in their native language. My daughter since she was twelve years old, was telling me that she wants to attend this program, so I wanted to give her the opportunity to do what she was dreaming of.
This year was her first year in the program and it was a challenging experience for her. When she was expressing the desire to attend it she obviously had no idea of the degree of the difficulty which is multiplied in her case, due to her dyslexia. The year that passed had many ups and downs and she was struggling with Biology high level and Math at the borderline sometimes. On the other hand since she never stopped being a teenager she always wanted to have free time and be with her friends too. The balance between the two proved difficult and from time to time she was loosing it. The whole thing created mixed feelings to her, varying from anxiety to anger to irritation to aggressiveness…
This way she reached the final exams of the first year these days. She started preparing herself through some real difficulties caused to all the students by the different scheduling of the exams at her school. One of her main problems due to her dyslexia is time management. Her school, unlike the others offering IB, in our country scheduled two weeks of exams for six lessons. The other schools offered twenty five days for the six lessons. When the first day came she had to be examined in two lessons but she declined doing so and she only went to take exams for the one of them. We discussed about how she mismanaged the whole thing and the need to readjust her plan. After that she started preparing herself for the next two she was going to be examined after four days. The one of the two was Biology. Her father is a Biochemist with a Phd. He was trying to help her through out the year telling me how difficult their curriculum is and how she is not spending adequate time preparing her matter according to his opinion. When she reached the exams one day he expressed his estimation that she is not going to succeed in these exams. It seemed that for her this was the drop that made the water pouring out of the glass since she started collapsing, loosing her courage and was in tears and miserable.
I was thinking that we have found ourselves in a situation where our daughter probably didn’t spend adequate time preparing herself but in the meantime the fact that she is dyslectic and the fact that the exams schedule of the school was so tight were making the situation worse. Part of the problem was her own fault and part of it from external circumstances. In any case, at the point where we had arrived my job as her mom would be to help her get herself out of this in a successful way. I was thinking that this was the moment to empower her, help her find her inner strength and her way out of this mess.
So I started by stating that,
-no one can tell what you are capable of doing and what not, neither me nor your father
-if you have decided that you will make it you will
-I asked her then if she thinks this is a very difficult quest for her and she answered yes and then I told her that there will be many times in your life that you will see things as a ten meters wave ready to devour you. There you have to decide whether you will climb on it or be crashed by it. It is your decision,
– difficulties arise in our lives in order to help us find within us hidden qualities and abilities and strengths we didn’t know we possess and these are the ones that help us tangle the difficulty itself but also help us evolve as human beings and become a better version of ourselves,
-you have to decide who’s on top you or the problem
-problems are to be solved and not to be worn as a hat on our head and now you have a problem so go ahead and solve it, take the hat off your head,
-it is the first time you face a real challenge,
-in the future many times in your life you might face situations where your abilities might be questioned by people or by the situation itself and there you will have to decide what will happen, will you proceed or will you be annihilated by doubt, which in fact is your doubt for your own self,
-this is an opportunity to learn how to cope with difficult situations and find your way out,
-when she told me about the lousy scheduling of the school I said that many times in our lives we have to deal with stuff like that but at the end of the day we have to manage somehow to reach successfully our goal,
-supposedly in the future you find yourself with work overload or irrational demands by your employer, if you will be employed by someone, or if you become an entrepreneur difficulties in implementing your ideas. What else would you do but dealing with it and finding your way out successfully. It is exactly what you have to do now, address the situation and solve your problems successfully,
-make a plan for this difficult situation, approach it strategically, prioritise, detect where the problems are and go for the solutions.
-do not let anything or any one overwhelm and intimidate you.
At the same time I was telling her the above, I was thinking about the educational system and I would dare say it needs reforming and I don’t want to sound arrogant. The one part is what I am saying to her in order for her to learn to overcome life’s difficulties and create her own path and the other is my own skepticism about the structure of the educational system and the system in general. All that pressure in education and later in occupation is making us better in what? I romantically believe that we can build a world where education and later occupation will not necessarily have violent traits and I believe that such a world will be more beneficial to everyone.
I told her so when she complained about it. I said create new ideas if you don’t like what you are experiencing right now and find a way to make them reality. You will help the rest of the world too adopting a different approach in anything you aim at making it better. I gave her the example of Elon Musk the founder of Tesla who created a school with a different educational approach for his own children. The few more students except his children attending this school describe their experience there as enjoyable and such that makes them happy and wanting to go to school and learning through this new way.
Why the accumulation of knowledge has to be an unpleasant and torturous procedure and not a joyous one? In Norway they already do this.
Maybe it is time, that we, as a global society discover new educational and occupational ways.
- Men & Women