“Don’t waste your time and money Majeda, she is just an average student. She will never make it to selective.” These were the words that changed my daughter’s life.
Although it happened a decade ago, remembering what my daughter’s schoolteacher told us when we asked about preparing her for selective school still baffles me.
“You actually do not know my daughter, nor do you realise her potential. But I do,” I replied with frustration.
Yes, my daughter’s report has always been “sound”. “Sound” which meant nothing to me as a parent. I knew she had great untapped potential in both Maths and English. Her “sound” was handed down from one teacher to the other from one year to the next. “Sound” is the safe grade, not upsetting anyone and not pleasing anyone. A struggling student will be happy to receive it, and an excelling student will be okay with it. Students and parents have been conditioned to just accept it. I felt like there was not much for me to do; I never saw an assessment, or its criteria (if any!) and could not see where my daughter needed help.
I looked at my daughter’s disappointed face and said to her teacher, “I believe in her ability, and if she tries hard, I know she will make it.” My daughter’s face lit up.
“Congratulations, your daughter has been accepted into Caringbah Selective High School.” I will never forget the day I received that e-mail. We had worked very hard for the past two years. I saw her determination pave her way to excellence. I witnessed the transformation of a “sound” student into an outstanding student, who is currently studying Advanced Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Sydney.
Sometimes I wonder what her path would’ve been if I had listened to her Year 4 schoolteacher! Maybe I would have regretted it to this day or maybe not, but I would’ve never known if she really had the potential.
– Dr Majeda Awawdeh