So why is that? Cast your mind back. Go a long way back, to your first memories. Think about what you remember wearing, what you remember doing, who you did it with, where you did it. How tall were you? How long was your hair? How did it feel to be young? Think about what you knew then.
And now think about what you know now. Think about how much you have learned. What you have seen, experienced, felt, believed, lived… And think where and when you got that knowledge. If your mum isn’t looming large, she should be, because in the majority of cases, she brought you up. It is all down to her. It wasn’t school.
Teachers didn’t really make much difference, neither did your school – yes, effective teachers and schools may have made your learning in school more enjoyable, but they were simply icing on the cake. Not sure about this? Think about your school days. Start with the early years, in primary school. Think about the things which stand out, whether they be buildings, or feelings or people. Think back to a time before you could read, and the things people read to you if you remember them. Think about the things which you did read when you could read for yourself.
Try – and this will be difficult for most people – to imagine what it was like before you knew how the number system worked. Do you remember learning how to add, or subtract or multiply? Do you remember a time before you could divide numbers, or name shapes, or understand angles?
If you are like most people, your memories of this time will be fairly jumbled up, a mish-mash of actual memories and memories constructed through family myths and half-recollections. It was simply childhood – a time of immense learning, development and growth. Some teachers you had were kind, helpful and, if you were lucky, inspirational. They sprinkled some sugar onto your learning. Some were probably awful; ask your parents which of your teachers were awful, and they’ll tell you if you can’t remember… But your mum brought you up, not them. And that’s what matters.
Secondary school is a little different, inasmuch as children become much more active participants in their own academic development as they mature into adolescents, but the core theme is the same. A supportive mother will support her children, and she will find a place in a school which will enable her children to learn what she can’t teach. Children have to take more responsibility for actually trying to understand what their teachers are trying to teach them if they are to progress academically, and their supportive mothers will help them. Luckily, the majority of children do take responsibility, and most do well in school when compared to both their parents.
But the thing which makes a difference is your mother, not your teachers and not your schools. Your mother provides a huge cake of learning, on top of which effective teachers and well-run schools will add some icing.
Here’s some evidence for my thesis:
“Research finds that mothers are the strongest influence on children's educational achievements, and the key to a family's chances of social mobility.
“Much of the apparent relationship between a mother's post-16 educational participation and measures of her children's cognitive ability and her parenting skills is driven by the selection bias – it is largely other factors, such as her aspirations, motivation and prior achievement, which determine her child's attainment and affect her decision to stay on in education.”