In the year of 2000, I was predicted to fail my GCSE's (General Certificate of School Education exams). Today I want to share with you why this almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy....
Regretably, at a young age I realised that I was seen as merely a statistic based on my socio-economic background; ie being a product of a single parent household and also being 'Afro-Caribbean'. As a social-scientist, I have previously examined studies which indicate a correlation of children from a single parent household producing deliquent children however, there are many successful children who have been a product of a single parent household. Too many times, we allow unconscious bias to play a huge part in how we predict a person's potential and I believe this plays a huge role in why we have so many individuals lacking the confidence to obtain their dreams. I dare to ask, how does one steer away from these negative stereotypes???
If you have read any of my previous blogs, you may already be aware that I migrated from Jamaica a few years ago and began attending my final year in secondary school in the UK. My report card from back home at the time suggested I was obtaining A's & B's across all subjects. In the UK, it was customary for teachers to predict our GCSE grades prior to our exams and I recall a plethora of my teachers predicting my final assessment grades to be a D average. I never paid attention to how this affected my confidence but later on questioned how would a student go from a grade A to D average in a matter of months. Naturally, I began to underperform in my studies and started believing the predictions of my teachers. It was not until my Math teacher started challenging me, that I began to redevelop my confidence in my subjects and eventually was able to find the right educational path to successfully obtain a Bachelors degree in Criminilogy & Sociology.
I've heard too many stories like mine and have to really question how many students are incorrectly predicted to fail in our society. A previous colleague of mine shared a similiar experience and told me about a college professor who said she wasn't smart enough to be accepted to law school; surprisingly she not only became a lawyer, she furthered her career and became exceptionally successful in her field. Subsequently, what would have happened had she believed she wasn't "smart enough" to pursue her dreams? Frankly, I believe many incompetent teachers may be neglicting the children of our tomorrow. Many students are undermined, overlooked and made to believe their dreams are unreachable. I found that the main drive for me to continue pursuing my goals were the positive role models in my life. My late father, my mother, my brother and my extended family & friends made me believe that my dreams were attainable and that's what kept me motivated. I believe this is a key component to obtaining success in the face of adversity. I applaud the likes of Madam C J Walker, Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey and many others who never gave up on their dreams, they are true reminders to believe everything is possible.
My intentions in writing this blog, was to highlight the dangers of negative labels and stereotypes which may affect both children and adults but there are many examples of those who were able to overcome the psychological and economical barriers which were placed on them. We need to teach our children and remind ourselves that nothing is beyond reach no matter who says otherwise. Lets constantly celebrate that one's future is not dependent on how they begin in life, but how they finish.