Lessons for my daughters: On Education

I knew it had to come sooner or later! Every topic to date has filled me with the warm fuzzies and I was beginning to think that my daughters might actually enjoy reading this blog when they’re older. But alas, I must tackle a topic that’s bound to read like an uninvited lecture. Teaching them the importance of education is so obviously vital and I genuinely have some sound advice in mind that… blah, blah… they’re just going to skip this chapter entirely, aren’t they?

I will proceed as planned… I suppose I’d better get used to being ignored! For the benefit of any new readers, I am using the general structure of the keepsake journal that inspired me to start this blog, ‘My Prudent Advice’, as a guide. The headings below are taken from the journal and the answers are mine, written to my daughters, Anya and Ellora. Here goes Chapter 5…

I learned more from this than any other experience: My first thought is that having you two has taught me more than any other experience, but actually I think it’s more than that. Yes, becoming a parent is the steepest learning curve I’ve ever encountered. I read books, I took classes, I soaked up as much advice as humanly possible from colleagues, friends, family, random people on trains… these things alone make entering motherhood more educational that any academic experience I’ve been through. It goes beyond this, however. The two years I have taken out of the workplace for maternity leave have given me perspective and there’s nothing like being kept awake breastfeeding in the dark all night when it comes to some ruthless self reflection. As well as all this new stuff I learned about parenting, having children taught me who I really am and what I really want (wow, deep).

What I’ve learned about learning: It only comes easily if it’s something you’re really interested in. Anything else is going to feel like a long, hard slog and you’ll end up wasting time frequently questioning yourself about its value instead of getting on with it.

Where I went to school: Both my primary school and secondary school were within walking distance from home in Stannington, Sheffield. I have such fond memories of both schools but also feel completely detached from that life at the same time.

My favourite things about school: Undoubtedly, my favourite part of school was seeing my friends – I was lucky enough to have some amazing school friends and love thinking back to our shenanigans (if any of them ever happen to come across this blog then please do know that I miss you and wish you the world of happiness!). Secondly, it blatantly has to be the beginnings of some sort of love life, but we won’t go into that here or your daddy will rule out co-ed schools for you entirely. Thirdly (and I only mention this because I feel obliged to say something academic), I did love the creative subjects and wish I’d paid more attention to this enthusiasm when it came to deciding what I wanted to be “when I grew up”.

Some challenges I faced in my education: Following on from the previous question, despite doing well at my GCSEs, I found it extremely difficult to decide which subjects to take forward from school into higher education. Bearing in mind that I only really started to realise who I am and what I want from life in my late twenties, choosing a career path at sixteen felt very daunting. Suffice to say, I chose badly and ended up backing out of my college courses in favour of full time work at a ground-level role in banking. I still had ambition and (with a lot of hard work) managed to progress to a senior role within the organisation, but I’ve always been conscious of the fact that I stumbled upon my career in finance as opposed to chasing it. When I met your daddy he inspired me to fill the void I felt by not going to university when “normal” people do and I started working towards my MBA… several years later I graduated with one of you on each hip and I finally felt some pride for my actions and their potential mark on the world (as pictured).

My favourite areas of study: I always loved art and languages as subjects but never truly understood how to turn these into a career. My form tutor and art teacher (Mr. Griffiths) was the most positive influence a person could hope for in school and I hope his other students have been better than me at feeding this back to him in ‘adulthood’.

What I hope you get out of school: I hope that you feel comfortable and confident enough in the environment to avoid distractions and concentrate on what you want to get out of it. I thought this answer would take a lot of thought but, actually, I think that pretty much sums it up!

What I don’t think school can teach you: School can help you shape your aspirations but only you can piece together a plan to transform these into accomplishments – you won’t feel the same push to deliver against someone else’s targets. The system is there to help you as much as possible but no one knows what makes you tick like you do. I hope your daddy and I can help you find your true calling before you have to make any life-changing decisions, but failing that I hope that you find some confidence in yourself while you’re under our roof.

A lesson I learned that you will have to learn for yourself: Those who you aspire to follow at school age are unlikely to be the people you aspire to follow later. Think about the reasons you admire them… are they advocating credible lifestyles or just replicating certain interesting behaviours they see in people around them? Your peers are the same age as you and – no matter how experienced you believe them to be in a particular area – they have the same battles to conquer. Stay true to yourself and know that you will increasingly see the value in holding a simple philosophy in mind: waking up with determination and going to bed with satisfaction.

x

Thanks for staying with me to the end of this one! Not my favourite topic to write about but that’s probably because I have a few regrets about my own education and desperately want my girls to have a different experience. Do stay tuned for the next chapter, “On Travel”, and feel free to get in touch if you read anything you can relate to or think I’ve missed something important from this one! 💋

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