Not A Typical Teenager: April 2016

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Splitting in Schools

I have been in school for the past 14 years of my life (whoa, that's sad), and for the last 5 years, I have been set for a few subjects. I would like to start by saying I do not agree with putting pupils into sets, but I disagree with splitting pupils up. The distinction comes later.

I was set for maths and science in year 8, and then in year 10, I was also set for English and geography. This wasn't a problem. Setting is a great thing because it allows pupils of a similar standard to be put into the same class, and it makes the teaching aspect easier and makes sure that the pace the class moves is okay for everyone.

This year, however, I have encountered something new. The welsh government have introduced something called the Welsh Baccalaureate, (or Welsh Bacc for short), which is designed to prepare pupils for the world of work and further education. This idea is great on paper but it doesn't quite work as well in practice. It's not a very interesting subject, it's time consuming and it's not geared towards every student. It's a mainly essay based subject, which means that it's not a great subject for people who have taken as many number based subjects as needed to avoid having to write any essays (aka me!), but it doesn't involve much if any number work. It is also taking up my much needed revision time as we get closer to exams.

Even though I find the Welsh Bacc boring and frustrating, it is not the worst part of the subject. My school runs an honors program for people who achieved 5 A*-A grades at GCSE. This sounds great, but it is a little unnecessary. It is not a subject that really needs to be set. It is not exam based, and everyone has to be taught using the same PowerPoint's and examples. The reason they split us into this group is so that we could be informed about different talks from universities to allow us to make a more informed choice.

This makes sense, but there are people who achieved the grades to get on the program who were told they couldn't be on it because "the honors program didn't cater to the subjects they were looking to do at university". One of these people has taken cultural subjects, but plans on focusing in on art at university (hello there Jellyfish!), but a few months  ago, I received an email about an arts day in Loughborough. I forwarded the email onto her and she applied, but I didn't need the information. She did. But she wouldn't have got it because apparently honors wasn't for people like her.

On top of this, the talks we are having seem to be about picking the right university. I'm not going to university, but I'm allowed in this group and to attend these talks. What doesn't make sense to me is that most people are going to apply to university; so why can't everyone have these talks. The ones about picking the correct university are necessary for everyone, not just honors.

what do you think? Am I being unreasonable? Should everyone get to hear about university opportunities? Do you do Welsh Bacc or key skills? How do you find it? Let me know in the comments.

Stay Un-Typical

Ashleigh xxx

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Always Smart, Never Pretty

People talk about equality in today's society. It's such an important thing. It's important for everyone to be equal. It's important that I'm seen as equal to my male counterparts when going for jobs and places in university (if I go).
Girls are saying they want to be seen as more than a pretty face. That they want to be something more than the surface of their skin. And it makes perfect sense; we are all more than what first meets the eye.
Since I was little, I've been told that I'm clever. That my intelligence is going to take me places. It sounds really arrogant, but people all around me have told me so: family, teachers, friends. When I was younger and I played games with my friends, where we used to pretend we were characters from our favourite programs. I was always 'the smart one'.
I was treated like a mature student in school by teachers. I was never bullied and practically everyone in my year knew who I was because my name was 3 months into my first year in high school because the board of pupil of the half term featured my name nearly the most (there were 2 people ahead of me. I counted too. It's sad I know).
Fast forward to 5 years later and I'm still considered smart. I'm in the high achievers group in school and part of a network of high achieving students in the local boroughs. I'm still one of the smart ones, and I'm reminded of that almost everyday in school when I'm told I should be applying to uni, not getting an apprenticeship, because I could get into a good uni.
But here's the thing (and kind of the point of this post). I'm smart but not pretty, or maybe I am pretty, but I'm not told it. I'm made more aware of my brain. As we went through high school, my closest friends were sought after by different boys and I watched them go through by after boy who told them they were pretty or beautiful. People I crushed on liked my friends, not usually me.
It sounds stupid. These two things aren't directly linked, but I guess I would have liked to be told I was pretty. I knew I was good at my subjects. My grades proved it to me. I was good enough for me, and I was told that I was good enough for the teachers, and family. But I was never the pretty friend.
I have a boyfriend who tells me I'm pretty, but he kind of has to. I know technically he doesn't, but when he tells me so, I tell him he says it because he feels he has to.
There is a movement of girls saying they want to be seen as more than something pretty to be looked at. This is a great movement, but I feel like it would be nice to be looked at as something pretty every once in a while.
What do you think? Have you always been told your smart but not told you're pretty? Do you wish people would see below the surface? Let me know in the comments.
Stay Un-typical
Ashleigh xxx