I always remember trying to choose my options for GCSE – there was a whole Open Day thing where the teachers were ‘selling’ their lessons, ‘selling’ their qualifications. As far as I can remember English, Maths and Science were compulsory and everything else was a choice.
I couldn’t actually tell you what my choices were in the end, without looking at an old CV telling me my qualifications, however, one thing I do remember from that ‘Open Day’ was going to see the Geography department. As I sat there looking forward to what the teacher had to say she told me that she thought Geography would be too hard for me – because there’s a lot of course work. That’s an abiding, long lasting memory that trumps all of the qualifications I did actually get.
It doesn’t help when your sibling and cousins are all super clever, then a teacher – who you have respect for – tells you that, you start to think that maybe you’re a bit stupid, not the brightest bulb in the box. But this isn’t a sympathy story, it’s more of an interesting revelation story.
I have probably been beating myself up for years for not being clever enough; I can’t even begin to list qualifications I’ve gained to ‘prove’ that I’m not daft (although that sounds daft in itself). Having since done quite a lot of training in psychometric profiling, to understand communication and how others communicate, I now see that comment in a completely different light.
I am someone who will ask questions and need more detail to figure something out – it may take me a little while but I’m like a dog with a bone. The ‘geography is too hard for you’ now translates to me as ‘you’d be too difficult for me to teach geography to’. I honestly think that I probably would’ve been a student that needed more information, maybe more attention, than others and that makes teaching, for some people, too challenging. Some teachers just want to deliver a lesson, have the students listen, copy off the blackboard and not ask questions and that's it.
This is just my experience, which was quite a while ago, I am not saying all teachers are like this. In fact I know many teachers who are simply brilliant and it reflects in their students. Those teachers get really annoyed by the ones with no real desire to help and understand the students.
There are also many entrepreneurs out there that were deemed to be ‘not good enough’ at school, or ‘wouldn’t amount to much’ and then went on to prove everyone wrong.
Proving that anyone can learn anything, with the right level of understanding and communication.