AS GEORGE Orwell said in his remarkably prescient novel Animal Farm “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
It would appear the tall poppy syndrome is still alive and well in Australia.
I read with amazement the successes of those young people who are the top achievers with their VCE results. It is also very disappointing to read letters objecting to newspapers singling them out for special praise. Come on! Let them enjoy their day in the sun. All praise to them.
Anyone who has been a teacher or parent of a senior student knows the hard slog of that two year course, particularly Year 12. Many students put in hours of study outside school hours. Many students also work part time, returning home late in the evening to apply themselves to more study. I can’t imagine how tired they must sometimes have felt.
Surely it is mean spirited not to wish to acknowledge the outstanding marks the highest achieving students have been awarded. We should all celebrate excellence. That in no way detracts from the large bulk of students who also achieved results they were generally happy to receive. Of course, there are inevitable disappointments with some results, but all students who completed Year 12 deserve our praise and respect. Schools and parents are proud of their students’ results. None of it comes easily.
We celebrate and glorify young people who make the selection cut for AFL football, or a highly-rated cricket side, or become a star swimmer. They’re not dragged down by envy or snide letters, they’re the pride of Bendigo, so why not those young people who have shown themselves to be high achievers academically?
Years 11 and 12 VCE, VCAL and VET students have achieved so much already, simply by setting a goal to complete the challenging demands of years 11 and 12.
Teachers and student advisors will be reassuring and supportive of those disappointed students who perhaps didn’t reach the ATAR score they were hoping to achieve. That ATAR score is only one measure of a student’s abilities. In order to apply for certain university or TAFE places they need a particular score, but this need not be the end of their hopes and aspirations.
Young people leaving school have the world at their feet. I hope they’re bold and brave, and look forward to the next stage of their life, whether it be further study, a year off to travel and save money (the famous “gap” year), or to leave study behind altogether and move on to different work places, different environments entirely to those in the academic sphere.
“And suddenly you know … it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.” (Eickhart). That’s where these young people stand right now – the magic of new beginnings.
Let’s not forget the students who are homeless for a variety of reasons, who will need wise counsel from mentors in the community. I hope they find someone who will be the ‘elder statesperson’ in their life.
There are good people in the community who will mentor those young people. Good for them!
Congratulations to all those students who completed years 11 and 12, and in doing so can now say to others “I did it, and so can you”... and now you have choices you once never believed were possible.
As the saying goes “The world’s your oyster. It’s up to you to find the pearls.”
- ANNIE YOUNG