A truly awesome article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald. The author is Daniel Hu, a 2017 graduate of the highly selective Sydney Boys High School. Daniel crushed his ATAR and makes it very clear that this result is the product of hard work, dedication and a mountain of support from parents who get that education is an opportunity.
I never reached the starry heights of Daniel’s achievement, but I can relate to what he says in many ways. I did not do very well in school. I struggled socially and this had an impact on how well I did academically. The truth is though, at the end of the day, I simply did not work hard enough to do well. Yeah, I did have some things going on and these impacted me a little harder than most others, but none of that matters. I still chose not to put in the work, regardless of my situation. This resulted in some pretty lacklustre results which I am not proud of.
Daniel, born to non-English speaking working-class immigrant parents, had every reason to underachieve, too. After all, poverty has a profound impact. But he didn’t. And he didn’t because he put in the work to ensure that he didn’t. The day I started to get anywhere was the day I decided to stop making excuses and put in the work. My time at university was unlike my time at school. I worked hard and did fairly well. I’ve no doubt my hard work resulted in my permanent teaching position as a new graduate – a rare and competitive placement.
That taught me that there is power in hard work; in dedicating yourself to something worthwhile, even if you stand in the face of adversity. The truth is, no one is ever coming to save you, no matter how hard your situation is. Whether you’re a boy born to working-class parents or one with a smorgasbord of teenage problems, no one is coming to give you the perfect job or the perfect life or the perfect ATAR. You’ve got to earn that yourself and it is not possible to do that without a sheer amount of hard work and dedication.
Instilling this idea that hard work and dedication is the key to what you want in life must be a priority for all educators. The actions of Daniel’s dad speak a million words. I can picture Daniel’s dad learning English just so he could help his son learn a little more, just as Daniel describes. What would our students achieve if us teachers adopted that level of desperation and belief? The world would probably have more Daniels; more kids who get that hard work will ensure success.
I wish Daniel all the best. I am sure he will do well given the mentality his parents have instilled in him.