I attended Parents Evening at my son's school last week. Like many fathers of young teenage boys, one approaches these things with a degree of caution. And sure enough, teacher after teacher leant back in their chair with the words "Ahhhhh, so you are his Dad. Right, let's see..."
The general conculsion was that he is a "teenage boy".
When I got home, I sat the lad down and droned on for an hour in a fatherly way about the need to focus, work hard etc. Then I decided to impress him by showing him my school report from when I was exactly the same age.
That's where it all started to go wrong.
Or possibly that's where it all started to go right.
It turns out I was also a "teenage boy". In fact when I read parts my report my wife could hardly tell which was mine and which was my son's.
So, to give hope to all you teenage boys out there (not that you actually bother reading at all at this stage) here is the report of a 13 year old boy who went on to get several degrees, build several companies, become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, present alongside Bill Gates, be invited to attend Davos and do one or two decent things (I think) in education. So, parents, have hope. If your son's report looks anything like mine, all is not lost.
English: 66% Thomas works well with enthusiasm and intelligence. He is always willing to take place in class discussions
(where is my classic story about the potato? A masterpiece.)
Maths: 56% Tom works very hard when the work interests him. If he concentrated on the harder parts he could do better.
(I loved maths and loved the maths teacher. Made me feel special. Best teacher of my life. Wish I could remember her name)
Science: 31% Tom is a very capable lad but he is a great source of distraction to others and resents rebuke very strongly and spends a lot of lesson time sulking. A pity
(How ironic. I was actually always fascinated by science and went on on to get a degree in Applied Physics. But I really didn't get on with that science master. It was war every day.)
History: 61% Shows interest. Good project work.
Geography: 67% Work standard generally but not always good.
French: Grade A. A vast improvement since last year. 4th in group
(The result, I'm afraid, of a pretty French teacher replacing the old bloke we had the year before. Sorry. I was a teenage boy.)
Physical Education: Grade B. Unfortunately a change in Tom's attitude has retarded his progress. He continues to be an outstanding all round sportsman.
(Readers, please note: "Outstanding all round sportsman" :) But did he just say "retarded"? Can you write that in school reports??)
Music: Grade C. A capable but moody individual. Effort very variable
Drama: Thomas is very good in this subject, particularly where there is any movement involved.
(I am very proud of having been "Young Johnny Jones" in the school play. Although I didn't like it when they made me "black up". I refused to go on stage.)
Art: Grade A-. Has talent in this subject
(Hold on, capable in music, very good in drama, talent in art. Why did I end up as a computer geek?)
Metal work: Grade B. Has shown keeness and above average ability in this subject
(Do they still do metal work? We made some dangerous implements in that class, some of which were put to work in the playground...)
Form Teacher Summary: Thomas works well and in general has improved. But if he causes distraction to other in the class his work will suffer in the end. He must learn to concentrate a little harder and put maximum effort into his work.
(Improved! Gosh, I must have been really bad the year before)
Section Head Summary: Good work standard but I am concerned about his immature behaviour which is distracting others from working in some subjects. CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE IN SCIENCE!
So there you have it, warts and all. And calm down about the science - I did change my attitude! To be honest, most of the work was trivially easy so I felt my main duty at school was to make the lives of anyone who sat near me as entertaining as possible. I hope life worked out for the poor souls who sat next to me (sorry guys, wherever you are !)
Mind you, this is all an improvement on my report aged 7 from primary school which included the legendary phrase "Can be rather slyly naughty". Moi? Never!