it’s not the school that matters but the teachers and the student

The suit does not make the man.

I always loved that saying.

A suit is simply made of cloth. It has no special powers. It won’t make you run fast, jump any higher or work any better.

That said, one should never underestimate its value.

A suit has the power to influence others and it instills confidence in the person wearing it.

Did you know that the BBC requires all its radio announcers to wear tuxedos? On the radio.

The tux will never be seen, but it is heard.

That being said, a tux can’t do it alone. The speaker must be good to begin with.

All the tux does is help amplify their power.

Along those same lines I have learnt one inevitable truth when it comes to education: that the school does not make the student.

I was lucky.

I attended an International School from the age of 8 to 18. It is something that most definitely shaped who I am today. In fact, it is one of the things that I wish to be able to give my son.

But what was the best thing I got from my time there?

Was it my International Baccalaureate classes (otherwise known as IB, or in simple English, advanced classes)? No.

Was it the facilities? No, though I did love having a swimming pool and nice classrooms.

Was it the teachers? While I did have some good teachers, I would have to say, “No.”

So what was it?

It was the students. I met kids from all over the world and was forced to deal with globalization on a daily basis, albeit in my native tongue.

My friends are my true treasure from school and I believe many people would agree with me.

Many people have a big misconception about schools, especially parents and kids.

Most parents try hard to get their kids into a good school (and I’m the same) but the problem is that most parents stop once their kids are in. That’s a BIG mistake.

Parents need to understand that they share the blame for their child’s growth or lack of it.

Parents help prepare children for the following day at school, or they don’t.

Those parents who help teach their children good study habits, help their children with their homework and teach them above and beyond what is in the textbooks amplify their children’s success by a factor of 3.

Then there’s the teachers.

Just because a child gets into a good school is no guarantee that the teachers, they will get will be any good, or sometimes more importantly, be a good match.

Teachers have different styles. I may have talked about this before, but in my high school my math grades were as followed.

  • Grade 9 – A+
  • Grade 10 – A+ & A-
  • Grade 11 – B-
  • Grade 12 – A+
Notice anything? What happened in the 11th grade? Was I sick? No. Was I overloaded? Nope.

The only difference was I just couldn’t understand my teacher.

I did have a few great teachers. Peg Keeney (8th grade English ) and Mr. Morton (11th grade history) are the two that I’ll always remember.

They taught me lessons that I carry with me today.

I also had a handful of awful teachers. Arrogance, baised (negatively), sexist and unwilling to admit they had made a mistake were just a few of the flaws I came across in some teachers.

But that’s the way it goes. In many ways, it’s like a roll of a dice. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

So many parents and kids don’t get that the school/college, we attend is a small fraction of who we become.

I’d say, 5% is the school. Teachers do play a larger role, I’d say somewhere up to around 30%.

So what makes up the rest?

Parents, at 25%, because they lay the foundation by teaching their children morals, disciplines, language, habits and a whole lot more.

And then 40% is the kid themselves.

With that said, I am a believer in that we are masters of our fate. As such, even if we don’t have good teachers, or a good school, or even good parents…we can still succeed.

To use a poker analogy; it’s not the hand that’s dealt that matters, it’s how you play it.

Speaking as a parent, I believe it’s up to my wife and I to help prepare our son mentally, emotionally and physically for life.

That means helping find the right TEACHERS for him.

There’s not much I can do about the teachers he has at school, but I can help find him teachers outside of class in the form of extra classes or study material.

I’ve slowly amassed a huge collection of resources that will become part of his studies as he grows up.

Once he’s old enough instead of pocket money I intend to create a reward system – he can earn more money by studying my book, audio lecture or DVD of my choice and then discussing it with me later.

With any luck, by the time he graduates high school he’ll know more about management, communication, marketing, time management, wealth and success than anyone around him.

That, combined with what he learns at school will serve him well in life.

In fact, what he learns at home should help enhance his results at school.

In the end, it’s a win-win situation. He’ll make money to spend (which kids LOVE) and my wife and I will help him succeed (which parents want).

If there was one thing I wish I could help get across to others is that education is the key to success and education is up to us; that it is our responsibility to go in search of good teachers and then put what we learn into action.

One of my favorite about success is this. Three women are sitting around talking about their son’s college life.

The first mother says, “My son’s going to Harvard and it’s costing me a fortune.” The second mother says, “Well, my son’s going to Yale and it’s costing me a fortune.” The third mother says, “My son’s working at a gas station.”

Upon hearing this the first two mothers almost fall out of their chairs.

Then the third mother adds, “And he’s making a fortune.”

In the end, it’s what we make of what we have. Not what we study or where we study.

Forget the school; find the right teachers and take the right actions.

Adrian Shepherd

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