BY SHANKARI CHANDRAN
At a recent parents’ drinks, I was asked by a mother whether I had made my daughter do any practice NAPLAN* tests. Naturally, I lied like the relaxed mummy that I most certainly am not.
This week my little Prima (aged 8 ) has NAPLAN. It’s her first brush with standardised education and also mine, as a parent.
More importantly, it’s a reminder to myself that Prima might not make the standards set by others or myself.
You see, I can “do” most forms of standardised testing (except reverse parallel parking tests). All you have to do is tell me what the expected standard is, point me in the right direction, and like a greyhound, I will mindlessly chase after the mechanical rabbit. I can’t help it; it’s some weird Pavlovian reaction.
During the Christmas holidays, I printed off a NAPLAN test from the site and I asked Prima to do it. I returned 45 minutes later to find that she had answered a handful of questions and then illustrated the rest of the exam booklet beautifully.
I’ve had years of life coaching (courtesy of a former employer) to control the over-anxious achiever within me and to “learn a new and more constructive dialogue with myself and others”. For example, I almost religiously repeat the following mantra to my children:
-Your marks are not important;
– It’s about doing your best not being The Best;
– It’s about being the best you can be, not being The Best;
– Mummy will be happy if you try your hardest (alternatively insert “best”);
– Learning and having fun is the most important thing Mummy wants.
I wonder if my children sense I am faking it; that despite what I say, their grades really do matter to me. To put this into context, my (fully extended) family and community (you know who you are) are the kind of people who: