It’s been a stressful, hectic month as the academic year draws to a close at Marina International School. The school takes examinations very seriously indeed so I have been on Jordan’s case for the past several weeks as his End-of-Year Exams approached and he’s been resisting me every step of the way! The Head of the High School, William Arthur, has been excellent at confronting Jordan on his study habits, encouraging him to create his own revision time table and stick to it so that he puts in at least two hours of self-study every day of the week. He has also given him an ultimatum that if he does not pass his Form 4 End of Year Exams, he will not be proceeding to Form 5 for the next academic year starting in September. Yikes! Jordan did work on his revision time table and started off his self-study sessions with a bang that week. However, his initial enthusiasm waned pretty quickly and he was soon back at Square One flying by the seat of his pants as usual.
So we were pulled into William’s office once a week after that in order to enable Jordan to become more accountable to what he had promised to do as exam preparation. He did begin to attend Saturday morning tuition classes with Mr Kenny for History & Sociology and eventually ended up scoring 60% for each of those subjects which was much better than what he had done in the Mid Year Exams in the second term. He also went for ICT classes with Mr Conteh on Saturdays at noon. He refused tuition in the other five subjects and decided to wing it as he had done before.
He did also (finally!) log into the new GCSE Pod programme that William bought for the use of Form 4 & 5 students at Marina School. He was overjoyed to find that watching and listening to the 3 – 5 minute podcasts (designed by world-class teachers in order to deliver the IGCSE curriculum to modern day students in bite-sized, hi-tech form) was right up his street because it suited his learning style. He was also inspired to watch YouTube videos to revise Economics which was one subject that was not covered by GCSE Pod. He managed to get Cs in Maths, English Language & ICT – but failed Econ and Biology – for both of which he had no extra help having refused tuition. He still passed the exam because he got five Cs and was ecstatic that he wouldn’t have to repeat Form 4 again!
Sometimes I wonder how he was raised in this family and still manages to underperform so spectacularly. We know that he’s very bright and also that his high energy prevents him sitting still for very long and affects his level of concentration. However, the main thing that seems to motivate him these days is his teenage rebellion in which he tends to define himself as being anti-establishment and therefore committed to pitting himself against both rules at home and school regulations, including of course passing examinations.
Paul says there is nothing we can really do about his spectacular failures until he experiences a moment of truth and the realization dawns on him finally that doing well in his academic subjects and passing his exams is something he has to do for himself because it’s his life and nobody else’s. So here we are still standing on the sidelines cheering him on and waiting expectantly for his epiphany!
Rai has continued to excel in all her subjects and has passed her Year End Exams with Distinction having got six As for Maths, Science, ICT, Geography, Music & Art and a B for English and Design & Technology. She struggles with French for which she had extra after school classes and ended up with a C.
She has developed into a much more mature person in her first teen year and yet still sorely lacks the social skills she needs to navigate life in a co-educational school in a foreign country & continent. She still complains that she has too few friends (a perennial grumble that she has always had even when we were in Sri Lanka) but she is also someone who likes her own company and can be quite prim & proper in her approach to life which we think is often quite off putting to her peers.
Paul had a very challenging year as Head of the Junior School but managed to pull it all together through the first and second terms. He was just cruising through the final term of the academic year with the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel beckoning enticingly when disaster struck. A nine-year-old girl had an accident while in school where she fell in a sandy area of the playground during break time. Though she seemed alright when she got up and walked to class, and then to the sick bay, and answered the teacher’s and then the school nurse’s questions clearly and coherently, and though her father picked her up soon after the school called him and rushed her to hospital, she became unconscious and died later that night.
We were all heartbroken and Paul was devastated as he had never experienced such a thing in any of the many schools he had been in throughout his life. It was a traumatic ending to the school year and a searing reminder of how fleeting and therefore how precious life is!