Skip to content

Permission to be Quiet!!!

This week I’m feeling rather cross.
A little matter concerning the education system has riled me (again).
Our 15-year-old came home from school very upset on Monday, saying that she has no chance of achieving a good grade for her GCSE English next year because the speaking and listening assessment that she took this year went very badly. She is very shy, had to perform in front of the whole class (plus a teacher who frightens her) and says she went to pieces. She has had her results and is cross, upset and frustrated because she says they are very poor and are worth a massive 20% of her final GSCE English exam grade.
Twenty percent!?!
I too am angry, upset and frustrated. We are waiting to hear if she can re-take.


Why put children through this? Some children are shy. I was shy at school. Being able to stand in front of a room full of people and spout a load of stuff about a book you have read is no measure of how good an English student you are. Neither is taking part in a role-play situation proof that you can read and understand.
Teenagers are very self-conscious and very afraid of making fools of themselves at the best of times. It’s a trillion times worse for the shy ones. Let the natural performers perform and let the quiet ones be quiet.
Which brings me onto me!
I was incredibly shy at school. Two different teachers forced me to take part in two different school debates (You could have powered the National Grid from my trembling) and several different music teachers forced me to perform in public on various different occasions. On every occasion I was terrified to the point of being ill, hated the experience, regretted doing it, performed badly, felt I’d made an arse of myself and never wanted to do it again. It didn’t make me less shy – it made me more shy. And repeatedly my school reports were full of comments about how I didn’t participate enough in class. ‘Too reticent’ was the favourite.
Why do shy people need to change? Why does everyone think we need saving? ‘Bringing out of our shells’? Why should we be more outgoing, more confident? Why make us get up and dance at parties and then say ‘ Ooh, look – that’s better! You’re having a nice time now, aren’t you?’ Don’t. We hate it. We go home and lie awake all night and wish we hadn’t made such an idiot of ourselves and make a mental note to avoid bossy people who try to change us in the future. We retreat even further.
I don’t go around telling noisy people to shut up and sit down. I observe them and enjoy our differences.
So that’s what I’m cross about this week and every week. Differences.
Let’s all be different and marvel at each other.


We're all different

Now go away and leave me alone.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. I was one of the gobby kids, which didn’t necessarily mean more confident, just louder.
    Strange that so much of an English exam would be based on performance. Even French oral exams were only one on one. Seems extremely badly thought out.
    I’ll shut up now.


    • You don’t need to shut up Claire. I like gobby people 😉


  2. As a shy person myself, I completely agree with everything you’ve said here. Every school report I got, said I should answer up more, and my grades were marked down because of this, even though my written work was above standard. I feel for your daughter; and you are completely right – who says that loud is better?


    • Thanks Emma. Things just wouldn’t work if we were all the same would they?


  3. M #

    Ohhh… that takes me back. At school I was too shy to speak in class and I didn’t sing a note for pretty much the duration of my childhood (with the exception of a dreadful songwriting/singing moment after which I was asked to mime). I only ever did one presentation in school, during which my pants were visible – it was excruciating and didn’t improve much in early adulthood when, during a professional presentation, I sweated so profusely that the overhead slides stuck to my hands. (Overhead slides? Yes, I’m THAT old).
    These days, as a mother, I sing/caterwaul, dance, and waffle endlessly – in public – so that my children need never feel frightened, as I was, of being the biggest fool on Earth. I’ll be that, for them.
    As for your daughter – I bet she was brilliant and that everyone in the audience was admiring her bravery just for DOING IT. Because the coolest thing in the world is to stand up and have a go.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: