To my boys. (Some thoughts on education and lessons).

This in itself is a lesson in over-egging the cliché pudding!

You will meet many teachers throughout life, some in school, many outside of school.  It is up to you to learn the lessons they teach.  Some lessons are fun and exciting and leave you wanting to know more, some are scary and hard and you’ll want to avoid repeating those ones, so try to learn from them the first time. All lessons are valuable.

In school your teachers will need to you be on time, alert, ready to learn, prepared, with all the books and equipment you’ll need for their lesson.  You must listen, pay attention, co-operate, and contribute.  They’ll tell you in advance what you’ll be learning, what you’ll need, and what’s expected of you.  Outside of school lessons come when you least expect it in forms that you’d never imagine and it may take you by surprise to find which people teach you most.  Always be open to learn, willing to accept that there’s another way worth considering.  Be alert to every opportunity and know that some of the most precious things to discover are learned in the hardest way.  Some lessons will come easily but to get the most out of life’s lessons you may need to put some effort in, co-operate, pay attention to the signs and help others along the way.  You may or may not feel prepared or equipped to deal with each lesson, but know that you already have everything inside you that you’ll need and make the most of the love and support that is always all around you.

In school your teachers will all be different; the strict one, the gentle one, the interesting one, the enthusiastic one.  Outside your teachers will also be different, the kind word (or unkind word), the accident, the compassion shown by a stranger, the unexpected incident and of course many, many people.

At school, in English you’ll be taught about punctuation, types of word and how to write an essay.  Hopefully you’ll learn to love reading and discover some great and inspirational writers.  I also hope you learn how to choose your own words carefully, to speak from your heart and speak your truth.  Learn to read between the lines and discern truth from fiction.  Know that your next chapter is always yours to write, each day starts as a fresh page.  You can never re-write the past but you can learn from it and it’s never too late to start again.

Mathematics lessons will cover things I never understood and can barely remember the names of; algebra, trigonometry, equations, long division and pi to name a very few.  Very intelligent people use maths to explain a great deal of very big and mysterious things.  That’s very clever and it’s a good thing to try and work out mysteries and see patterns and connections and to be able to define those with science and numbers.  If you could learn that it would be amazing, but what I find more amazing is that our universe and everything in it is still a mystery, it can’t be defined by maths or words or even science.  The universe is infinite therefore it makes sense to me that it is immeasurable, don’t waste too much time defining and attributing numbers to the amazing things that we know about.  Explore and discover them, feel and experience them, seek answers but also experience forces beyond our scientific knowledge and feel awe for the unexplained.  Using maths and science is a great advantage but also learn to calculate who you can count on and how to be counted on.  Make each moment count. Recognise when you have chemistry with others.  Learn how to measure happiness and success and how to find balance and heal divisions.  Eat pie.

History lessons will teach you about great people and wars, rises and falls of empires, dictatorships, whole countries and individuals.  Understand that history has many versions depending on who’s telling it.  Learn from your past experiences and mistakes. Learn to look back with fondness for lessons learnt, paths crossed and foundations laid.

I expect you’ll learn modern languages at school which is great, the more people you can connect and communicate with the better.  Remember too how much can be communicated by eye contact, touch, body language.  Always communicate with sincerity, understanding, with the strength of your convictions and with compassion.

Learn sports, be active keep your body healthy.  If you want to you can train hard and push your body to compete and achieve or you can just run in circles with your arms out until you’re dizzy. Whatever you do with your body respect it, nurture it and feel joy in it.  Feel the wind in your hair, walk alone sometimes and dance without inhibitions.  Find the kind of friends who you can be totally silly in front of and they’ll only love you the more for it.  Laugh at and love the ridiculous in yourself and others; it’s what makes us special.  Be proud of your physical achievements, congratulate others on theirs, shake hands with your opponents and be gracious in defeat and triumph.

I know that being at school sometimes feels like being a square peg in a round hole, you might think it’d be easier to be home schooled and I have considered that.  But it’s important to learn how to be yourself and exist happily in a system that’s not designed to perfectly suit you.  No one is the perfect round peg for the round hole that is school, everyone is different, and everyone at some point feels left out, confused by others and bewildered by the way the world works.  You won’t always be able to choose who you have to spend time with or work alongside; it’s a valuable skill to be able to get along with anyone, see the good in everyone and coexist peacefully, all the while being true to who you are.  School is the perfect place to practice that.

You will be tested throughout school in all subjects but remember this is only a reflection of  how you are doing that subject for that short time during the test.  It doesn’t even tell us everything you know about that subject let alone anything about what kind of person you are, all of the amazing things that you know and can do.  You can never be defined by tests, don’t stress about them.  Do your best then move on.  There are some testing times outside of school too, and how you deal with these is just as important.  When times do get tough, know that it won’t last just do the best you can do at the time, make sure you balance the hard times with fun, spend time with people who care about you and know that even the roughest storms blow over.

Some lessons I’ve learnt so far that I’d like to pass on:  Learn when it’s time to sit still and listen and when it’s time to stand up and be heard.  Be brave enough to experiment but sensible enough to do it safely.  Always shake hands, when being handed something take it with the left hand so you can shake with the right.  Look into people’s eyes.  Trust your gut; your instincts are right.  Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Be honest. Respect your elders, peers and those younger than you, in fact respect all living things.  Expect respect in return.  Stand up for your beliefs.  Be sensible with money; be wary of borrowing, if you can’t afford it today what makes you think you can afford to pay it back tomorrow?  Choose to be happy.  Remember that how others treat you is their path but how you react is yours.  If necessary rise above it but do it with kindness and honesty.

While I’m on the subject of lessons I need to thank you both for the lessons you have taught me and Daddy.  Every day you remind us of the importance of our family over everything else, you taught me not to be scared of responsibility, to trust my instincts and have confidence in my judgement.  You remind me to have fun, laugh at myself, and be ridiculous.  Through being your Mummy I learned to see the world in a very different way, I discovered what’s important to me and I learned what unconditional love is.  Thank you for being the best, most fulfilling, fun filled lesson in my life.

Mummy xx

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