From all mothers to their children sitting exams.

Fourteen years ago I took you by the hand, somewhat reluctantly on both our parts, and brought you to school; big school. I unclasped your hand from mine and with a kiss I walked away, heartbroken as I saw your look of discomfort and distress. photo credit: Ashitakka via photopin cc

That was the beginning of a new life for you.

In the early years it was a fun place to be, where you were encouraged to grow and form your own opinions, nurtured by teachers who guided you as you blossomed. Eventually you outgrew junior school, it was time to move on, away from that nurturing environment into formal secondary education. There you became one of thousands but despite meeting some amazing teachers, education was largely for the purpose of exams, not life.

Many years have passed since I took you by the hand that first day and now you are, in theory, no longer a child. The state tells me it’s true, but in my heart I know differently. You are, and always will be a child of mine.

Today you begin exams, ‘The prees’ we call them, the precursor to ‘The Leaving Cert’. You must answer a series of questions in various subjects which will supposedly tell the world how clever you are. The results will let us know how you are doing and if in time you will get enough points to pursue your course of choice.

How do I tell you it’s all nonsense? How do I explain to you that this is just a moment in time which may seem the be all and end all? How do I make you understand that you are so much more than the result of an exam?

As I wave you off this morning and wish you luck I will watch you as you pass beyond the gate. I will feel your anxiety and rail against the pressure you are under. Quietly I will whisper to no one at all, ‘Best of luck sweetheart’, but inside I will roar, ‘Wow, isn’t she amazing?’

For regardless of results, today, or in the future, you will always be so much more than a good memory to me.


I would like to dedicate this post not only to my own young lady, but to my Godchild.

photo credit: Ashitakka via photopin cc
photo credit: Petra Senders via photopin cc

19 thoughts on “From all mothers to their children sitting exams.

  1. Apparently my comment got lost in the transmission. Let me try again. Your post is so true, so well said, and so sad in the fact that the enthusiastic creativity of the child becomes caged by the restrictive bars of preparation for passing exam questions created by others. As an emeritus professor, I know how awful it is when people become oriented toward the concrete reward/performance/grade instead of the joy of creation.

    1. Thanks Mona. It saddens me too how life changes for our children. They begin in this country with a wonderful system in which they grow and bloom, then they move to secondary school at 13 and it’s all about results. The person they were is lost and the pressure to pick a career at 19 becomes all consuming.
      Education should not be purely a test of memory and exam technique.

    1. Here’s hoping. It’s amazing how resilient most students are. They have really bought into all this. I look forward to the day her eyes are finally opened.

  2. How absolutely awful that we have reduced our idea of “success” to ridiculous test scores. Wishing both you and yours a sense of accomplishment, no matter what the scores my reflect.

    1. Thank you. I look forward to the day when she realises there is more to life, and education than these final exams. Bad and all as it is at least our children have junior school without formal exams or league tables, but I fear those days will come.

    1. Thank you. You are so right Exams do indeed stifle creative thinking and living. What with that and the growth in social media and the influence of the internet we have a very different generation in the making.

  3. what a beautiful way to look at this arduous and meaningless in the scheme of things task. you have put it in perspective. they are young and don’t understand that yet, one day they will –

  4. My daughter is doing her Junior Cert mocks this week, the pressure on our children now is crazy I think. My girl is unwell, all I wanted to do this morning was give her a hug and send her back to bed instead of sending her off to sit in an exam hall.

    1. Oh the very best of luck to your daughter. I hope she got through her exam alright. That is another concern, that the very days they are doing these exams they may be less than 100%. I know we survived but I think that nowadays it’s more about rote learning for exams than actual knowledge.
      Mind you I think if I had my way I’d cocoon my young from every sort of difficulty, which really wouldn’t do them much good either.

  5. I’ve had experience of a school that operates outside this sort of approach and it’s a revelation and an absolute credit to the teacher who established it.
    Hope your daughter copes okay. xx

  6. Schools give certificates for book knowledge, but life is soooo much more than that. It’s a lesson we all learn in time. At home, we can balance all that stress out by honoring the whole being – the certificate of love 🙂

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