As my children grew up, I found that school parent’s evenings slowly advanced from a focus on their ability to control glitter and PVA glue to more weighty matters around discursive essays on the US Constitution.
In Scotland, kids begin to choose their specialist subjects at the end of S2 when they are 12 or 13. So far as the subject choice was concerned my input to the process was mostly, “Do you like the subject?” and, “What exactly are Modern Studies?”
All of this means that the Parent’s Evening in the January of S2 just before the selection requests go in is attended by more than the usual number of teachers and has an unusually long introduction from the headmaster. A few years back, when the Daughter was first to go through the process, the meeting went on until the janitor wanted to go home. A number of men (it’s always the fathers) caused the marathon duration as they stood up one by one and explained that 12-year-old Lochie/Ryan/Tony (it was always the boys) would never get to St Andrew’s to study Law if the school didn’t offer Latin AND Physics in the same stream. They also stood up and explained the challenge for a good five minutes. Me, I just wanted to look like I cared and to go home at the earliest possible opportunity.
My friend Julia observed the same phenomenon. She suggested that every school meeting should start with a fifteen-minute space in which those who wished to could stand up and tell everyone that their children were very talented and unlike your children would be going to St Andrew’s to study Law.
I just decided to watch what happened. My thing has always been to trust that my kids are probably the people best placed to understand what they can and can’t do. Yes, they need encouragement to challenge themselves, but they don’t need telling what to do.
All three of our tribe have had strong interests outside of school, water polo, Mandarin and swimming in that order. Water polo got the Daughter into university, Mandarin (so far) has #1 Son working in a café, but he’s off on his travels followed by a Linguistics course in Aberdeen most likely. #2 Son (that’s him in the picture) can swim batshit fast, although he has no idea what he’ll do after school our best guess is that it will involve a swimming pool.
The children of the parents with long questions? Well, privacy prevents detail however dropping out toward the end of First Year to do something they actually like seems to be popular.
What does this have to do with business? Well, my tuppence worth is that the people who work for you are intelligent individuals hired for their abilities. Yes, you will have to train, mentor and coach them but it’s a great deal better to have people doing things that they like doing well and with a passion than it is to have people grudgingly grinding out their days to earn a paycheck because that’s what you think is right for them.