Avoiding Mediocrity

The students recently received assessment marks from their teachers. There is a tendency amongst human beings at such times to see the process as being complete. However, these marks, comments and the reports to be received at the end of term are, in fact, launching pads for the next stage of their learning. They do not mark the end of anything.

The End of Semester Report provides important feedback on progress and a time for reflection. Albert Einstein once described insanity as ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’, and went on to say that success and improvement had a great deal to do with a mindset to be open to change. When reviewing reports, it is clear that many boys have worked hard and received results that reflect their efforts. There is a great satisfaction for them in knowing that hard work paid off. The challenge for them is to now build on that base, identify the things they can improve so that they can further develop their mind and understanding. Beware of thinking that it is all done now; these students must be open to change to make further progress.

Other boys have worked hard and have not received results that correspond to their efforts. They would obviously feel disappointed. The strength of their character will be measured by how they deal with the disappointment. Will they examine the process of their study, perhaps in consultation with their teacher to determine whether they have worked as effectively as they might? When they look at the results, they must try to identify those areas where they do not have sufficient understanding and seek support.

Some boys have not worked hard and have still done well. They are in the greatest danger because they are being encouraged to rely on natural ability rather than learn the discipline necessary to succeed in difficult circumstances. Sooner or later, life will throw these boys challenges that will require them to knuckle down and persevere. It may not be academic but they will need those skills of perseverance if they are to address the challenge.

Finally, there are some boys who have not worked hard and have not done well. The remedy is fairly obvious. Learning for the long term requires application each day and night. There is no success without hardship and the only real failure is when the boys have not given their best, when they have not been prepared to put up with hardship to pursue an important goal.

There is a view that the best thing a student can do at school is study at night; not so. The best a student can do is to get really involved in their classes, by paying attention, asking questions and focussing for the full period. If boys use their class time well, they will learn the material the first time and they will need less revision to cement it in place.

An education at Marist College Canberra is distinguished by intellectual excellence and academic rigour. Any institution that calls itself Marist avoids mediocrity, so this semester break is one that provides the impulse for introspection and reflection, allowing for growth and achievement in areas where it may not be manifest to the degree that it should.

Matthew Hutchison