Here you will find writings that give some insight into Trinity’s programs.

Success in Life and Exams

Posted on Jun 16, 2017 in

 

Whether stated officially or assumed in the unspoken culture of a school the ‘truth’ often put forward is that there is a direct link between success in exams and future success in life. This contributes to the intense “hot house” atmosphere in schools around exam time to such a degree that I have several friends who still, thirty years after leaving high school, have nightmares about not being ready for an exam.

At present there is little help offered to students to manage the stress, and mental health implications of the exam ordeal. Thankfully this is slowly changing, but the myth of links between exam success and one’s future persist.

So is success in life directly linked to success in exams? Is it linked any more or less than the acquisition of any other discipline or skill?

Our future is much more likely to be seriously influenced by things like our people skills, or our ability to network, or especially our capacity to continue to learn and personally grow in social/emotional terms. If anything interferes with any these we are much more likely to find a hard road ahead.

Put more to the point, the only thing that assures success in life is a continuing commitment to personal growth, which enlivens the natural learner within us, and engagement with the world around us through the practices of curiosity, love and resilience.

We are meant to throw ourselves into life, not cautiously carve off a piece of it and put our brand on it! And I would apply this statement even to the preparation for an exam.

As you prepare for any exam don’t put your focus totally on the external event of the exam, but use the experience of however you learn to study, manage your time, and prioritize your tasks to be processes for reflection, and personal growth.

You will grow more yourself the more you step up to the life, both within you and in the challenges this world presents you. This dual learning process will bring increased intensity to your life by increasing the intensity of your attention to the work at hand.

And what about success?

It’s a common idea that we are successful if a certain external outcome is achieved. But it enhances our life more if we concentrate as intensely as possible on the process of achieving an objective but detach ourselves from the outcome.

Success in these terms turns our outcomes into offerings, and the pursuit of achievement less a matter of external rewards and more a life enhancing process in our personal growth.

The Hidden Benefits of Exams and Stress

Posted on Jun 8, 2017 in

 

As the last weeks of the secondary school year approach I wanted to reach out to the many Trinity peer leaders, both in secondary and high school about the hidden challenges and benefits of stress and exams.

For me the end of the school year always entailed stress but not because of exams but because I was usually cramming at the last minute, trying to make up for my hit and miss self discipline around managing and prioritizing my study for individual courses.

To compound my problem I was told that studying was essential for my future success, as were high marks. This shifted the focus away from the particulars of my personal growth and on to my immediate need to somehow do the best I could for future rewards.

All this obscures the deeper challenges involved in our self-development at this crucial stage of our lives. In our adolescence, for instance, we lay down the basic framework for how we handle the ups and downs of life. And we should be as self-aware of this process as we can.

As human beings we are from our earliest years constantly in the process of stabilizing ourselves as we grow socially/emotionally through various experiences. In fact the process of striving for stability and achieving it in our mindsets and emotions, then having a destabilizing experience and struggling to reintegrate that experience into a new stability is essential to our capacity to grow and learn.

Anything that takes the focus away from this process will impair our innate resilience. The result of this could be that certain areas of our life can remain destabilized for long periods of our lives. Or in plain talk, we don’t get over certain losses or failures, and develop aversions for example to certain issues or avoid activities that threaten to move us out of our comfort zone.

More importantly, this process can be the major contributor to negative self-talk developed in our childhood and adolescence. And exams in particular, which push us into an intense singular external focus, can impede the development of our self-awareness and delay the development of an inner literacy. This in turn leaves us to measure ourselves in black and white terms such as success or failure, win or lose etc. and nothing more.

Ultimately, in the larger context and meaning of our life, the outcome of exams are unimportant. Our real challenge is to make the preparing for exams and exams themselves an entirely conscious, multifaceted experience in which we grow as a person as well as developing the discipline to acquire certain knowledge and skills.

Take back your education from the education system and become a lifelong learner.

Experiencing a pressing demand from an external source- substitute for exams a boss someday for example- is something that will happen all through life in our relationships, our workplaces, and pursuit of a vocation. Best to use the challenge of exams now to be aware of the deeper personal growth processes in your life, and lay down stepping stones for your future in the never ending process of learning, unlearning, and relearning to meet the ups and downs in all facets of our lives.