The following is a slightly edited letter I sent to the current P7 classes I had taught in previous years…
Hey there P7s!!!!
Well you awesome lot, how’s it all going? Christmas is out there… getting excited yet?
I had meant to write to you sometime before the first transfer test, but that seemed to creep up on me and they had started before I realised. It’s a horrible bit of the P7 year, but hey, it’ll all be done and dusted soon. I’d like to say don’t worry about it, but I know many of you do, and someone telling you not to won’t make much difference. In fact, some of you will worry about the fact that you’re worrying over not worrying about it. So don’t worry about it.
11+ tests feel like a massive thing now, but in comparison to other things that’ll happen to you over the course of your life, it won’t feel so important eventually…
Anyway, I thought I would write you a list of things that are worse than the transfer tests.
- Accidentally bending one of your nails back.
- Meeting your principal in a forest, at midnight. And there’s a full moon.
- Being in an overcrowded lift when it breaks down.
- Being in an overcrowded lift when it breaks down and someone farts.
- Having to teach P1.
- Having to teach any class when there’s snow falling outside.
- Being attacked by an angry gorilla.
- Having your ear licked by the person who sits next to you.
- Being stuck in a broken down, overcrowded lift with an angry gorilla who deliberately bends back one of you nails, farts, and then licks your ear.
- Thinking that the transfer tests, whether you do them or not, say anything about your worth as a person.
Seriously, think about the last one, it’s important. Although so is number 9, think about it too.
I just did. Eeeeugh…
Here are 5 things transfer tests don’t affect:
- The good people around you. If somebody dislikes you because of a mark you got in a test, seriously, find better friends!
- All the abilities you don’t have yet. To get the best out of life, keep growing and changing. Look for opportunities to learn; ask questions. Be nosey. Look in cupboards. Poke stuff with sticks. (Unless it’s an angry gorilla). (Or your granny. As the song says, ‘never poke your granny with a stick’). You will learn how to do so many things, even if you can’t do all the stuff you want to do right now.
- How you think about failure. Nobody likes to say failure, it’s not a nice word. But get over it, say it a lot. Failure. Failure. Failuuuuuure. Try it in funny accents. Say it until it sounds ok; it’s never nice, but it’s how we learn. Everybody fails at stuff. Everybody has moments of getting it completely and utterly wrong. Like when I tried to eat spaghetti with one knitting needle. If somebody tells you they never failed at anything, they probably never tried something that wasn’t easy. The big thing is, how do you bounce back? Do you get up and try again. And again? And again? Maybe doing something slightly different? Get help? See the problem in a different way? Wear your lucky underpants?
- Who you are. Inside, you are an amazing person, you have so much to give to the world around you. Go find ways to be incredibly helpful, kind, generous, patient and understanding to other people. A low mark test has nothing to do with your ability to do that. A high test mark doesn’t have anything to do with it either.
- Tests don’t affect sugar. There will be always sugar, in all its glorious forms; lollies, ice cream, gummy bears, that super-sour stuff that makes you screw your face up and scream, fruit pastilles, M&Ms, pancakes, Werther’s originals and explosives. Apparently, sugar can also be used in explosives. A man called Geoff once told me. Though he also said he had a third arm that he kept hidden below his shirt, so he may have been lying about the explosives. Anyway, don’t eat explosives, kids, they’re bad for you. But sugar? Sugar will always be there!
I hope to see you all soon. Be good and look out for angry gorillas,
PS Next time you have to use a lift, bring a face mask.