August is the time for exam results. The A levels results are on the third Thursday in August and the GCSE results are on the fourth Thursday in August. It is such a big day when you find out how well you have done in the exams. It reflects at least two years of hard work or maybe a lifetime of study. You have been at school for eleven or thirteen years. These results are so important for young people and what they aspire to do next. It is quite hard to know what to study for next and what career that might lead to. I have read that only about 30% of people end up in careers that they wanted to do as children. If 70% do something different, it shows how difficult it is to know where you are going and to succeed in achieving that idea. Maybe we should not worry too much about the destination, but consider what is the best next step you can do at this moment in time.
Equally, the teachers are just as anxious for the students that they taught. They really want them to achieve their full potential. Sometimes, a badly worded question or an awkward exam paper can diminish the achievement of their students. It is entirely out of their control and frustrating for them to see more potential than the exam results suggest. It is something we often forget; the huge influence teachers have on children’s lives. Many people have been inspired by a great teacher to work in ways they never imagined they could have. Teaching can often be overwhelmed by paperwork in planning, recording and evaluating performance that we lose sight of the gifting and vocation of teaching. To be able to change and enhance someone’s life through education is a priceless gift. As we celebrate the achievement of the exam results, we should always give thanks for the hard work of the teachers. Each year they have to rise to the challenge of shaping, forming and inspiring a new year group. It is a constant changing group of students and changing learning expectations.
Jesus formed a group of disciples around him. The word disciple means a pupil of a teacher. Jesus was himself a teacher, as you read about the disciples, you read that they got it wrong many more times than they got it right. I suspect there was not much wrong with Jesus’ teaching method! The disciples found learning hard and slow. It is often our experience when we learn something new. We think at the beginning that we will never be able to learn this. Jesus is undeterred and keeps asking the disciples difficult questions, which they keep getting wrong. But over a period of a couple of years the disciples start to grasp what Jesus is telling them. When Jesus ascends to heaven, we see the disciples take on the role of teachers and ambassadors for Jesus. They must have learnt more than they had expected and were passing the examination that life was throwing them. We need to keep learning and give thanks for teachers.
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