I got a GCSE grade B in Statistics. C in History. An A* in English. And an “I don’t know” in life. I remember telling my head of year that I was leaving sixth form and the look I got was a mixture of disapproval and blankness. How could I possibly not want to stay? How could I possibly not be applying to university? Well damn, I know why now.
Because all school ever taught me was that I didn’t fit in. My talents were never enough to get me onto league tables and my name on certificates. My self esteem that started out pretty good aged 5 was all but gone by the day I left. I was always average. Average grades, average ability. Funny really, how since leaving the classroom I realised that there’s more going on in my head than an exam room could ever have made me think about. Because if you’re not particularly talented at those core subjects, you’re pretty much a write off. No one tells you that there’s a whole world of jobs out there that cater to every. single. person. They don’t teach you that you can be so many things. Nor were you told how to cope with a low paid job whilst you wait for yet another big opportunity to call you back and turn you down. And the saddest thing of all? I still believe that creativity is the first thing you lose the day you start school. Papier mache hats and easter egg boxes aside.
I wish school had taught me more about REAL life. I wish our parents, friends, neighbours, anyone had told us what to expect so that when we turned 18 we don’t feel quite so lost. But I guess they were all taught the same way too.
Here’s the thing…
I wouldn’t know the first thing about renting a flat unless my first job just happened to be helping people do exactly that. And god help me when I try to get a mortgage *gulp*. But you know, algebra is way more important than having a roof over my head, right?! I never really understand what different bank accounts mean – I just look to see if my money is plus or minus that month. It’s taken me four long years to learn how to sort of manage finances and it’s taken me even longer to figure out those really important things – like friendship, courage, trust, loyalty. I know i’ve learned more from the music I listen to and the books I’ve read than any textbook about Kings and Queens ever taught me.
And the saddest thing of all? No one even thinks to teach you about love. I know love can’t even begin to be taught but we ought to have some guidance to recognise what those butterflies in our stomachs are. Because wait… people cheat? People lie? Heartbreak isn’t just teenage love song material? Oh. That’s not covered in sex-ed classes. It seems to me that the one thing that makes us all human, love, is so hugely ignored by those meant to prepare us for the adult world. And we wonder why there’s hate on the streets and wars all around us. Even if all a person has to give is their love, i’d take that any day over the car they have or the grades they got when they were 16.
Sigh. The day we start teaching children less about apples falling on Einstein’s head and more about real life and love, the better. I’ll do everything I can to teach my own children about the good, bad, ugly and the difficult to explain. I’ll never be able to explain everything, but at least they’ll be 18 years old and a little more prepared for life than their Mum ever was.