Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Today, after about 6 weeks of dragging his bike along to school (thank heavens I have a people carrier to bring it home in), Marcel finally sat his Cycling Proficiency test. He seemed quite blasé about the whole thing and didn't seem to be studying the Highway Code cover to cover as I had 30 years ago but he bounced out of school today and announced he got an A both for the written test and the practical. Well done Marcel!
I did have to question a few changes since my day however. When I was a kid, back in the nasty old days when people were told they were useless or stupid, rather than always being told they were wonderful, you could pass or fail. You sat the test, you waited a week and then at a public ceremony the names of those who had passed were read out and you went on stage where you received a certificate of merit and a badge. Passing was an important achievement so you wore your badge proudly on your blazer till you left school 8 years later. Marcel seemed less impressed by his new high-tech (compared to mine) badge. He seemed surprised I had kept mine. Oh everyone got one, he said - If you did badly, you passed with a C, if you did well you got an A or B. But everyone got one, he explained. Now I know psychologists argue it is healthier for a child's self esteem to never fail, but is that cheapening success in some way in the minds of the more successful kids? And of course, is it setting kids up for the real world? When someone who has never been given the fright of inadequacy enters industry with the old schoolers of my generation, their self esteem may be in for a really rude awakening!

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