The Higher School Certificate(HSC) has the capacity to bring out both the best and worst in students, parents, schools, educational systems and the media.
Its imprint on our society’s collective psyche is such that it promotes, allows and normalises behaviours that under normal circumstances would be frowned upon.
In students it can lead to self obsession, a disregard for others’ needs and feelings of desperation and/or inadequacy.
It can rupture relationships and friendships and scar individuals unprepared for the constant pressure placed on them (by themselves, their parents, their school and their society).
Or the HSC can be an experience that allows you to grow in knowledge and skill, teaches you the power of resilience, develops your inner strength, shows the value of family and friends and reveals to you the generosity of others.
So as the year unfolds, the question is: Is the Higher School Certificate the key to the future or an unnatural stressor that promotes poor behaviour? Or both? Centre of the educational universe and/or bad at the core?
The HSC “facts’:
Parents, the greatest contributor to academic success (take a big pat on the back because every researcher knows and can prove how great your contribution to academic success is), can only do so much to physically, emotionally and financially support their HSC child (and I use the term child because the antics of these students can often be most childlike).
Teachers can only provide so much time, experience, care, knowledge, access to skill development and dedication to support students undergoing the HSC.
The school can only provide so many resources, experiences and facilities to support their HSC students.
The fact is that, in the end, despite all our best wishes and best efforts, the Higher School Certificate and how it is approached and the success or failure it brings is the responsibility of the student. Not that he/she might be willing to acknowledge this fact.
Facing the end of Secondary education, our students may need to consider the following:
- When does your desire to be the best become more of a problem than a positive?
- When does your need for help begin to develop into enabling and perpetuate weakness?
- When does your relying on others start to become entitlement?
- When does a focus on your needs become selfishness?
As we approach the “pointy end” of Secondary education my advice from going through the HSC years as a student, a teacher and a parent is:
- To the parents: You need to stop feeling guilty for continuing to be a responsible parent and requiring good behaviour in your own house during the HSC years. You are doing the best you can. Keep being a good example of how to show resilience and deal with pressure.
- To the other members of the family: Stop feeling guilty about breathing, walking, talking or having a life at home during your sibling’s HSC. Use any negatives you see to become determined that you will be more balanced when your turn at the HSC comes.
- To the HSC Teachers: You cannot do it all for your students and if you did you would be undercutting the development of resilience, independence and self-awareness they are going to need to develop for success in their future study or career.
- To the HSC student: Remember that many people are travelling this path with you and will try to help you but, in the end, how you approach the successes and challenges of this year will reveal your true character, test your worth as a friend and set a positive or negative agenda for your future. Remember: “Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” James 1:16
They survived. You will too!
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School