Understanding And Respecting Diversity And Different Abilities Among Schoolchildren

One of my goals as a counsellor is to help people to grow and realise their full potential in life. I think one of the first steps in this is recognising what one’s strengths and talents are. There is a strong tendency towards a ‘cookie cutter, one size fits all’ approach to education. The following letter was posted on Facebook yesterday. It is reportedly from a principal of a school in Singapore. I am uncertain whether or not this authentic but it raises some good points.

‘Dear parents, today your children will sit their exams. I know that you are really anxious for your child to do well. But, please do remember, amongst the students who will be sitting for their exams, there is an artist, who doesn’t need to understand maths. There is an entrepreneur, who doesn’t care about history or English literature. There is a musician, who’s chemistry marks won’t matter. There is a sports person, whose physical fitness is more important than physics. If your child does get top marks, that is great! But, if he or she doesn’t, please don’t take away their self confidence and dignity from them. Tell them it’s okay, it’s just an exam! They are cut out for much bigger things in life. Tell them no matter what they score, you love them and will not judge them. Please do this, and when you do, watch your children conquer the world. One exam or a low mark won’t take away their dreams and talent. And please, do not think that the doctors and engineers are the only happy people in the world.’

Of course it is important for your children to work hard to the best of their ability  But equally, recognising that not everyone is cut out to be a doctor or a lawyer is essential. You cannot judge a fish by its ability to ride a bicycle! While I was a student at Macquarie university, one of my friends suffered a nervous breakdown. She was studying to be an accountant and was struggling to pass exams. This was despite studying until the library closed. She later changed courses and has since had a very successful career in her field.

Know your children’s strengths and weaknesses. Help to improve their weaknesses and develop their strengths and watch them grow and prosper. Also, a good balance between school work and activity is important. Studies have shown that children who are physically active are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety (http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN14V2C6).This finding is very significant as the rates of self harm and suicide in school children is alarmingly high.

Written By Ian O’Neill
BSc (Psychology), PGDIP (Psychology)
Registered Psychologist


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