For good students, there are grants, awards, recognition. That's great.
But what about underachievers, failures and simply bad students?
What about youngsters who are a real challenge -
to their parents, to their teachers, to themselves?
What about the "irregulearners"?
Stuck in the losers' corner, how can a kid ever unfold its full potential?
We decided to change the framework. It was the best idea we ever had.
Some adolescents do great in some subjects and really "struggle to survive" in others ...
Many of them are talented and smart. And yet, they fail. Why?
Some children do just fine until the age of twelve or thirteen and then suddenly lose all interest ...
We've all known kids like that. Young people whose minds don't play by the rules. Irregulearners.
Were we like that? And what about our children?
So, your kid has a hard time in school. Why?
Of course, there are real learning disabilities. Like dyslexia and dyscalculia.
There are excellent pedagogical strategies to tackle them. In some cases, it also makes sense to test for autism.
But more often than not we find: The trouble is not in the brain. It is in the soul.
Many adolescents feel like a fish out of water, they are just not compatible with the system.
Perhaps only for a while, when they're simply not in tune with themselves.
That's why the big crash often happens when puberty hits hard.
So, private tuition, cramming and even punishments only fight the symptoms, not the cause.
If this were just a phase, a little personal crisis, parents could decide to simply sit it out.
But legions of women and men who dropped out of school defy this view! They harbour lifelong regrets
for not having grasped the full extent of the consequences in time: "If only I had understood back then ...!"
They would have needed an epiphany. Their personal Eureka! An eye-opener:
Better chances to understand themselves and their abilities.
Chances to tally talents with passions.
Chances to tackle as many new starts as it takes.
Chances to find bold role models and wider horizons.
Chances to build confidence and self-esteem.
Chances to encounter what resonates with their spirit.
Chances to have a place and value in society.
Chances to feel useful, needed, appreciated. And one day, remembered.
Parents need opportunities to create these chances for their children.
Without any red tape. Feasible and affordable. And in time.
Of course: Many irregulearners get their chances later in life and take them. Others, however, particularly the more vulnerable, creative souls, can't. Their self-esteem has dropped too low, the daily grind between job and family has worn them out, their energy- and time budgets have shrunk too much to pursue a new challenge with vigour and stamina.
To find out early enough in life, "Who can I be, who do I want to be?"
clearly is a life-changing privilege. There are ways to help it happen.
The Eye-Opener concept is based on the work of Sir Ken Robinson.
This talk from 2006 has a wonderful eye-opener story, it's quite a classic by now.
An epiphany needs a chance to happen. It needs an open door. That's where the community comes in.
The first step: "Get your kid out of the loser's corner!"
Having the chance to start anew, not as a loser and a disappointment, makes the world of a difference.
The essential first step is that parents acknowledge that their child is simply different, not better or worse,
and needs a different approach, that it is loved and accepted just the way it is.
That's why an Eye-Opener always starts with parental intuition.
Even in the most bored looking teenager, there is tremendous curiosity, just waiting for its moment.
Combined with the empathy and life experience that comes from other mums and dads, it will thrive.
An irregulearner can't just simply "show and tell"
Our very first Eye-Opener candidate was Emma in 2010. Her story shows just how hard adolescents sometimes struggle to find the right words for their conflicts.
Emma didn't have the words to communicate her worries