I have the delight of having two children doing state exams.
One is doing his leaving certificate,
the other the junior (of no real purpose) certificate.
We only have a few more weeks to wait,
until both are questioned and judged.
Luckily they seem to have taken after their Dad.
Both appear happy to slog away,
and learn what they have to,
in order to prove to the world they can remember facts.
No opinions are necessary.
Self expression would be frowned upon.
They must ensure they remember whatever they were taught.
I regularly meet stressed parents, who say to me,
“Have you exams this year?”,
It always amuses me.
“No I did my exams years ago”,
and after my last lot of teaching exams,
I promised myself,
I would not even do a pregnancy test,
I do know it is my children they refer to,
and therein lies my difference.
I do not have to do these exams,
my children do.
I understand the pressure,
and I sympathize.
But that is as far as it goes.
For you my two little ones,
These are your exams.
Work for them if you wish.
Study your heart out, if you can.
But please know,
these are a measure of memory.
Exams are created to judge the masses.
But you are my two children.
You have brains, and personality,
and talents which cannot yet be judged.
In front of you is a road,
which at present you see as straight.
University and career.
But those of us who have traveled this road,
know it has many twists.
When you break free,
from us your parents,
and your school routine,
you will see.
There is so much more to you than memory.
Geography, maths and chemistry,
which featured highly in your life,
will cease to be significant.
Life will happen.
I hope you throw away your constraints.
And embrace every minute of it.
question, and wonder.
Look in the mirror,
forget what the state has labelled you,
and get to know you.
Because you are so much more,
than that piece of paper in August will ever say you are.