This Thursday my pupils got their A-level results. It's a very strange feeling of happinessand relief to see your pupils get the results they need to get into university and to see the joy on their faces because at the end of the dayI'm a disinterested party and probably won't see or hear from many of them again. And yet it probably feels akin to what parents feel when their kids leave the nest and go to uni or get married, etc. but on a smaller scale. It's great to see dreams being fulfilled and knowing that I helped in part to that. The results were generally quite good with some very pleasant surprises (most notably Kam, whom I told, in all honesty, that I didn't think he could get an A, proved me wrong). Then there was also pity for those who had genuinely worked hard and just missed out on their grades. The emotions, whatever they are, are the reason for working throughout the year and the day is definitely one of the high points of the job.
However the whole experience has made me look at the whole admissions process and see its limitations. There are some good points to it, as it doesn't just take into account bare academic results and can allow people from disadvantaged backgrounds to punch above their weight and favours people with all-round abilities. But when I see incredibly deserving and conscientious pupils getting straight As (and not just scraping them either) and not even being given the time of day by universities it makes me think that the process is far too subjective and lacking transparency. And that's a great pity because many worthy students don't make it and others who managed to get shoe-horned into universities (sometimes through very dubious means indeed) not having the standard necessary and probably dropping out after a year, but in so doing depriving somebody more deserving of a place.
These two years have made me notice a trait that is very common among Indian/Pakistani students (and this is no way meant to be anything even resembling a racist slur). South Asians seem to be fixated by professions. By that I mean that they only consider degrees such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry and law i.e. ones that train you for a very specific job to the exclusion of all other degrees. This isn't just pushy parents but almost certainly the whole cultural milieu in which South Asians are brought up, which considers these jobs as being far more worthy, and which also places a great deal of importance on monetary benefit and pays scant regard to personal tastes. To me this seems a great pity as on the one hand these degrees are very limiting because they only train you for one profession and make changing careers very difficult, and on the other hand it means that they close themselves off to agreat diversity of degrees, skills and possibilities that they may find personally more satisfying.
That's about it for this post, but just to let you know I'm pretty much ready to go for my trip (I fly out on the 12th of September). Before I finish however, I must give a shameless plug for my travel insurance company that gave me a quote that was at least £100 less than all the other quotes. So if you are planning on getting travel insurance I'd recommend you check out direct backpacker.
P.S. One of my students insisted I mention him in my blog, so just for you: "shaat it Rishi!"