If you are getting GCSE results this week then…
First of all, we would like to wish you all the best with your results.
Secondly, you might want to check out this article which we published last week. The initial comments were to those getting A Level results but they apply equally to any exam results including School Certificates in other countries, degrees and other qualifications.
Thirdly, a word for parents and teachers. I probably should emphasise that these really are my personal views and not official Bearwood Chapel teaching.
It’s simply this. Take delight and pleasure in seeing your children going through this stage in their education. Why do I say this? Well if people like the old puritans who wrote the Westminster Confession and more recently people like John Piper are right then that is your first duty this week. The Confession’s shorter catechism asks
“What is the chief end of man?”
In other words, what is our purpose, as human beings, in living our lives on earth.
The answer comes back:
“To glorify God and enjoy him for ever.”
Piper notes that we actually glorify God by enjoying Him. We enjoy his goodness, his provision, his love for us. Education is a way of enjoying God’s goodness as we learn more about his creation.
Yes exams are about testing ability, knowledge and progress. Yes they are also about what happens next. But they also should be a staging post, a chance to look back, reflect and take delight.
So parents and teachers you have a share in the joy. No, you did not (in most cases) get the grade for the student, they got it themselves. We need to remember that because too often the pressure is on the teachers/schools to make sure the students achieve, they are expected to carry the blame when grades don’t go according to plan (though I wonder if that corresponds to praise for success). We also need to remember it because this protects parents and teachers from feeling guilty, embarrassed, a failure when things go badly. or over inflated with pride when things go well.
But… you do also have a share in the joy. You have played a significant part – as have many others. Education is a community thing. The child has a responsibility to learn but peers, parents, teachers and many others in our communities play their part by encouraging, informing and enforcing.
This has implications for other things too. The world around us measures education in terms of success and expects schools/teachers to do the job of educating. Some times we bring that expectation into church too. Has my child passed the equivalent of his church GCSE? The result is that we look at Sunday School teachers in the same way as school teachers. We subcontract our children’s spiritual upbringing to them. We expect results and if those results are not there then we complain.
Remember, it is God who is sovereign and the work of the Holy Spirit in your child’s life that brings faith. Neither underplay nor overplay your role and responsibility. Remember that under God, we all share together in the wonderful responsibility of bringing up young people to know and love the Gospel