A letter sent by a head teacher to their pupils congratulating them on their exam results has recently gone viral. What makes this letter different to the average results message though, is that the message reminds the students that there are in fact many different ways of ‘being smart’. It seems strange that this letter should ever have to be sent out though. Surely if schools were truly valuing each individual pupil, there would be no need for such a reminder because pupils would already know their own strengths and talents.
Are British schools actually limiting the potential of pupils who may not be seen as academically strong? It is true that schools are there to teach young people academic subjects but what does that do to the pupils who find it difficult to keep up with the increasing demands of high exam results? One can only presume that, although not necessarily registered, the effect of this attitude is damaging to the way the students view their self worth.
The Christian perspective sees that every individual is given a different set of gifts and talents which they should use throughout their life to worship God. As each individual is created uniquely by God, they are given particular characteristics, personalities and talents. In this way, every individual is seen as valuable due to their ability to contribute differently in worship and towards the life of the church. Self worth is not based upon whether they are academically gifted, or even gifted in a different way. Self worth comes from knowing who they are in the eyes of God and what their purpose is in life.
If it were possible for schools to take up a similar attitude I believe the results would be astonishing. Those students who once felt demoralised by the competitive education system would in fact be taught how to use their gifts and strengths to the best of their ability. The Christian attitude that everyone is unique, yet treasured and loved by God, is one that could be emulated through the school system. If this were to happen it would most likely have a positive effect on the future generations of our society. It would breed an attitude of understanding towards everyone’s differences whilst also enabling people to combine their talents to create a more productive and equal society.
Does this mean that schools are limiting the very pupils they are striving to teach? Perhaps it is so, but if all teachers looked to the example set by this kindly head teacher instead of focusing so intently on constantly improving academic exam results, the future generations will become more valued and more willing to learn in the way that suits them best. Surely that is what we should want for the future of our society?