Something that I’ve noticed during my teenage years is that a lot of adults tend to doubt our abilities of making sensible decisions for our future. I have been in many situations where I’ve been told that I ‘don’t know what I’m doing’ in certain situations so therefore am not capable of making the right decision or where it is assumed that because I am young I ‘don’t know what I want’ in life yet. I’ve mainly encountered stuff like this at school such as, for example, we had to choose which subjects to take for GCSE and teachers kept getting involved and trying to persuade you take certain subjects and to not take others, depending on what they think is best for you. I had my mind set on taking Triple Science, History, Geography and French but on multiple occasions my friends and teachers were trying to get me take Art. In the end I stuck with my original choices but I soon came to realise that I didn’t like science at all and wished I’d taken art instead. My point is, back then I was only 12 so was very confused about EVERYTHING and my teachers were trying to push me in the direction of science because I was good at it. If they’d just let me, and the rest of my year group, make up our own minds about which subjects we wanted to do for GCSE instead of ‘targeting’ people who were good at certain subjects then I might of ended up not taking Triple Science and doing something like German or Sociology which would have interested me more.
When I reached Year 10 and the time came to start thinking about what we’d do after we’d finished school, we were bombarded with information about all of the local colleges and sixth forms and had various assemblies where representatives from each visited and basically advertised their facilities to us and seemed so determined to get us to go to there college that we left with the impression that unless we went to college xyz we would all do badly and end up with bad jobs. That probably doesn’t make much sense but that’s what it felt like. They were so focused on reminding us to ‘make the right decision’ and stating that their college is ‘best for you’ that a lot of people, my friends included, were torn between various colleges which all promised to be the best place for them. My friend had her heart set on a newly-built STEM college but when she visited for the taster day, it was nothing like it had been advertised to us and she decided to go to a different college. I was kind of the opposite – before going to the taster day for the college I’ve just enrolled in, I really didn’t like the sound of it at all but because it was the only college that did the A Levels I wanted to do, I went to the taster day anyway and ended up really liking it. It’s just frustrating how the various educational establishments were desperate to ensure we made the right decisions that we weren’t allowed to form our own opinions of the places because they didn’t trust us to make such decisions by ourselves.
Another example of when I’ve been considered ‘incapable’ of making important decisions about my future occurred today, as a matter of fact, when I went to enroll in college. For ages my school had told us that we ‘must take 4 A Level course at college’ so I’d decided I wanted to study Geography, History, French and Law. Then when I went to the taster day for college back in July, we were told that we ‘can’t take 4 A Levels’ because it would be ‘too demanding’ with the new linear system, which is fair enough and I wasn’t overly bothered about that because I’d gone off the idea of studying law anyway so decided to just do Geography, French and History. Fast forward a month to yesterday when I got my GCSE results and got way better grades than I’d expected and I still had my mind made up on these three A Levels, despite my teacher trying to persuade me to take A2 Government and Politics as I’d taken the first year of the course this year and got an A. She seemed a bit disappointed when I told her what A Levels I’d be studying at college because she thought I’d do really well if I’d carried on with Government and Politics and it would be good for me (I do kind of want to carry on with this subject because I really enjoyed it but unfortunately the qualification I did was a different exam board to the one the college does and it would be quite complicated to sort out).
Anyway, when I went to college to enroll this morning, first I had to show my GCSE results that I collected yesterday to a member of staff, who happened to be the maths teacher. Firstly, he congratulated me on my results then he asked me which A Levels I wanted to take, to which I answered French, Geography and History. Then after that he looked really annoyed and started going on about how there was a ‘problem’ because I’m apparently wasting my academic ability by not doing four A Levels and that I’d do ‘much better if I did four’ because it would ‘motivate me to work hard’. He asked me why I decided to only take three A Levels and I said it was because I wanted to focus on these three subjects to do as best as I can and that there wasn’t really a fourth I was interested in. He thought that was ‘ridiculous’ and started suggesting a fourth A Level I could take such as English Literature or Maths. I was determined to stand my ground because after all he had literally only just met me and he can’t claim to know what’s ‘best’ for me just by looking at my exam results because no one can be defined by their grades. Yet still he couldn’t accept that I’d thought through all the possibilities and had made up my own mind about what subjects I wanted to take according to what I thought was the right decision to help me get to where I want to be in the future. Eventually he let me go and carry on with my enrollment after bringing a few other members of staff into the conversation and saying ‘you’ll find that you’ll regret not taking four A Levels in a few weeks time when you start college’. I had a massive rant to my friend over texts after this as I had to wait for 45 minutes to submit my bursary application and she reassured me that I’d done the right thing in standing my ground.
That whole experience was enough to put me off enrolling in college all together but luckily the rest of the staff were much more welcoming and understanding. After I’d escaped the wrath of the maths teacher, one member of staff even said to me that she ‘doesn’t blame me for not wanting to do four A Levels’ – THANK YOU.
That just proves that some adults don’t trust teenagers to make the right decisions for our futures because they are ‘older and wiser’ so apparently know what’s best for everyone at first sight. I’m confident that I made the right decision by sticking with just Geography, History and French though as I don’t see the point of taking an extra subject just for the sake of not ‘wasting’ my academic abilities. there wasn’t another subject I really wanted to take anyway and A Levels are hard enough as it is , whether you’re doing a subject you’re interested in or not. I didn’t want to have to spend time working on a subject I don’t really care about, especially not if that meant compromising the amount of time I’d be able to spend on the subjects that are important to me. I suspect this won’t be the end of this ‘problem’ though and that when I actually start college in a few weeks the maths teacher will hunt me down and continue his efforts but at least, for now, I’m doing what I want to be doing.
I just think that the older generation just need to have more faith in teenagers that we know what we are doing with our futures and accept that we’re fully responsible for the outcome. The same goes for giving teenagers responsibilities too. I think we just need to cut teenagers some slack, you know? We have enough to deal what with having to cope with transitioning from a child into an adult and working out where we fit in society without being constantly doubted on our own decisions.
Have you experienced anything similar? Do you think teenagers should be able to be trusted to make their own decisions more freely? Let me know!