The word ‘coasting’ perfectly sums up the majority of my secondary school experience. Coasting is when an individual knows what they are capable of (let’s call that a 10 out of 10) whilst also being aware of the failing criteria (let’s call that a 2 out of 10) so sits perfectly in the middle where it is both safe and not too difficult (a comfortable 6 or 7).
I tended to do ‘just enough’, this meant that I would always put in just enough effort to stay out of trouble whilst not stepping too far out of my comfort zone and stretching myself. For a period of time I was absolutely fine with this; it meant that I did not have to work overly hard and knew that my results would most likely be just enough to pass.
This attitude changed one day after a conversation with my Dad after what I had thought was a successful parents evening. I had approached the evening with the same tactical mind as always; this meant planning the order I would see teachers in, to ensure that the teachers whom I knew would be kind to me where at the beginning and the end of the evening with the bad reports spaced out in the middle. Of course I had also been working extra hard in the approaching week which in my mind meant that the teachers wouldn’t be too harsh. Each meeting was generally the same, “Kamal has a lot of potential but…” followed by a list of things that were not so positive such as talking too much, getting distracted or not completing homework on time. I was happy with this as the word ‘potential’ to me meant that I was able to succeed even if I wasn’t right now! However once I got home the very opposite was to be expected, my Dad told me that when I “hear the word potential” I should start “worrying”. I was encouraged to learn the meaning of the word so after grabbing a dictionary I found out the true meaning. Potential – Capable of being, but not yet in existence.
It was like a slap in the face! This whole time I thought teachers were voicing their confidence in my natural ability whilst actually they were telling me I need to get my backside in gear! Just in case that wasn’t enough I also got my mock results back which fell far below what I expected and I remember being extremely disappointed and upset with the results!
I brought these results home to my parents who were not impressed. My Dad told me to sit down and said “from now on, C stands for Crap!” I was shocked! I nervously asked what B stood for and he said “better”. Better?! Better?! I was baffled, better than crap? That’s just average! I thought there would be a saving grace with the A grade. I thought he would say amazing, awesome maybe even astounding. I asked what A stood for… his answer shocked me even more and changed my whole attitude towards grades from that day. “Acceptable”.