“I am not stupid”

This is what my 15 year old daughter said today when she got her Religion GCSE result.  She got a B.  She cried.  I cried.  I think even her dad cried (difficult to tell as he was hiding behind his phone as I Skyped her as she opened her email, but let’s assume he did too, makes for a better story).

She has dyslexia and discalculia.  Until last year she hated school.  I don’t think she really loves it now, or ever will, but she has gotten used to the fact that it is a necessary process she has to go through, as homeschooling is not really an option as I am useless at Physics and I am a poor substitute for her friends, mainly because I am rubbish at selfies and don’t understand Snapchat.  She has to work incredibly hard to make headway in a system that relies on reading, writing and memory, under time pressure, to prove how well you are doing.  My daughter can do all of those things, just differently from most.

So after telling her for years and years that she is smart and brilliant regardless of what the results on paper say, that little letter ‘B’ has finally convinced her, that she is smart.  That maybe she can succeed in the system after all, that she can succeed in life.  Perhaps she can also begin to see that her non academic qualities, of empathy, leadership, human understanding, organisation, creativity and above all humour, positivity and grace, will mean that she will fly, in whatever direction she chooses for her life beyond school.

Just because some children don’t fit the mould does not make them any less valuable to the school community or to society. Quite the opposite, as the challenges they face make them tenacious and tough whilst hopefully retaining their ability to show empathy to others who struggle.  Don’t write them off.  They could just be your boss in the future.

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