I've just read an excellent article by Alice Pung in today's Weekend Australian and The Monthly magazine. My favourite quote from that article is this one: "Even private schools are beginning to acknowledge a coached student may not necessarily have the type of rounded, inquisitive mind that they are after. Sydney Grammar School, for instance, strongly discourages academic coaching as preparation for its scholarship exam."
Hooray for Sydney Grammar. I was lucky enough to attend a private girls' school in the UK and, although I did not particularly like school, I did learn that I could achieve anything I put my mind to and that did not have to be academic. My school friends excelled at sports - I excelled at music. Although I suppose I would be considered intelligent, I never felt that I had to get A grades across the board to be successful and respected. I was definitely fortunate to have had supportive parents and a good education.
All I knew when I went to university was that I wanted to run my own business. I was confident that I would achieve my goal, because why wouldn't I? Twenty years later and I run a business with my family, providing education to children and teenagers out of the school environment - where the focus is on enrichment, confidence building and the nurture of thinking and problem solving skills - alongside mastering maths and English. Every day I come across kids who feel under too much pressure to perform academically and our workshops deliberately steer away from that "cram school" market, in favour of developing the whole child - a child who Sydney Grammar would love to have walking its corridors.
I hope that more schools follow the lead set by Sydney Grammar and other schools which look at the child as a person and not a set of exam results. We need creative thinkers who will enjoy their lives and enrich the lives of those around them. Exam results alone will not achieve that.