Most adults understand the importance of a good education. With hindsight we can all appreciate the value of learning, and the ability to continually learn throughout our adult working life. No doubt some of us had better school experiences than others, but I’m sure we’d all agree school should be an enjoyable (or at the very least not un-enjoyable) part of your childhood.
And so it is that we are currently facing challenges with Man-Child II. On the sporting field both our boys are excelling, both at school and outside school, with opportunities to play their chosen sports at elite levels. Of course we couldn’t be prouder.
Man-Child I has applied himself increasingly well at school this year, following some pretty average school reports, and the results have reflected his improved application. We are more than happy with this.
Man-Child II unfortunately has not. He also had some pretty average school reports last year and earlier this year, and to date no amount of threats or other approaches have changed his attitude to school or his results. He constantly has notes in his school record book about not completing homework, not handing in homework, not being prepared for a test. And each evening and weekend we ask about homework in a vain attempt to ensure he is completing the work. Unfortunately it seems this has not helped. The reason for his attitude? In short if he finds something boring, he just doesn’t do the work because he doesn’t see the point.
So now we find ourselves with a rather large dilemma.
Questions we are asking ourselves:
- Is the current school the right one for him?
- Would a different school be better for him – which one?
- Would they teach in a completely different way that might engage a 14-year-old boy?
- Should he repeat Year 8 due to immaturity and the fact he has obviously missed out on learning most of the basics this year (and which I believe are crucial building blocks for following years)?
- What logic can we use to make him understand there is value in maths, english, history, geography (eg. you don’t know how these might be relevant in later life, it’s the breadth of knowledge and the ability to learn that benefits you, etc.)?
I tell myself the curriculum can’t vary that much from school to school, so if he hates science, english, history, geography etc then he just has to suck it up, because it’s a little hard to not do the basics in Year 8 isn’t it?
We did recently get him a tutor in maths, a subject he reluctantly admitted he was struggling with and falling behind in. The good news is we have seen results, and it is the only subject that he has made improvements in – credit to his tutor. But the reality is we can’t have a tutor in every subject – that to me isn’t treating the cause of the problem at the end of the day.
At this point our plan is to seek the school’s guidance and advice – they see 250 boys each year go through Year 8 – surely they must have experience with similar cases? How have they handled it previously?
Of course the other issue this raises is a rather more delicate one. What if the school agreed with us that he should repeat Year 8? How would that make him feel? Would you move schools to do this (I think yes)? What is the impact on a 14-year-old boy with a twin brother (probably pretty rough I suspect)?
Not surprisingly the possibility of this infuriates Man-Child II. We had the conversation just this week following yet another poor school report. He is adamant he wouldn’t do it – naturally. Part of me hopes it will be just the motivator he needs to pull his digit out between now and the end of the year, and to save him and us from some hard decisions.
But in the meantime, I think we have our own homework – to seriously consider some options that might help our son, and ensure his school life is both enjoyable, and fruitful.
Thoughts, advice, similar experiences all welcome from the readers of my blog. Help!