Whilst the Dutch painter Vincent van Gough (1853‐ 1890) can be said to have lived a ‘failed life’ (which included exam failure, poor parental relationships, being fired from work, denied entry to higher study, suffering depression), he obviously also had a brilliant, creative and successful life, gifting the world with magnificent works of art.
Joanne Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series) was a single mother struggling on welfare before she sprung to fame. She was appearing to lead a ‘failed’ life.
And no doubt, you can add your own examples of people whom you know have turned their lives around – sometimes taking a long time to do so.
I write this at this time of year as students, educators and parents prepare for exams. Students need to devote time to preparation so that they can represent themselves at their best in each exam. And if their best results in a fail or a poor grade, then so be it. Success, happiness and indicators of a bright future are not necessarily measured by grades on school letterhead. Examples of this abound.
So it’s important at this time to see this season of the school year in perspective and in so doing, to live well.
When teaching at the University of Melbourne, I often saw trainee teachers surprised to learn that one could speak of multiple intelligences. Howard Gardner outlined a theory of seven intelligences which can be viewed at:
Schools go some way towards being able to make statements about a student’s intelligence. It is also true that they are severely restricted in doing so.
It may be an enlightening exercise to read what is at the official multiple intelligences site above and to reflect on your own intelligence… and then to invite your son into a conversation about his.
ANOTHER WAY OF LOOKING AT SUCCESS:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to learn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a little bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded”.
Adaptation of a poem published in 1905 by Bessie Stanley (attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson).
All the best,
Mr Pascal Rohan
Director of Student Wellbeing