Even if you failed exams, all is not lost

2012-01-06 00:00

SO you scraped through your matric, or possibly you didn’t! Eish! Now you are wondering what to do with your life. There is mounting evidence that those who don’t do well at school are not necessarily the failures they are made out to be.

Julius Malema is famous for his poor marks in woodwork and his overall poor academic performance, but it has not stopped his ruthless climb to the top of the ANC Youth League and his fame and notoriety.

President Zuma is one of the least qualified in his cabinet, yet he has the power to run the country.

Determination to succeed is a huge factor and many students who underachieve at school have simply not been interested in any of the subjects on offer. Only once they have been exposed to opportunities and knowledge in the wider world do they see potential in many areas of life, and develop a keen desire to achieve.

There is also a growing disillusionment with the measurement of intelligence using traditional IQ tests to determine the chances of a person’s success in life.

Success and IQ (intelligence quotient) are not necessarily linked, according to two different studies done by major universities who have tried to define what it takes to be a success in life.

IQ studies from Cambridge University Press show that being a genius is not necessarily related to the genes you are born with, and that it is about hard work.

“There are international chess masters that have below-average IQs,” said the study author Dr K. Anders Ericsson, a professor of psycho­logy at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

“Basically, there is no indication that people with higher IQs are able to reach the top faster. We are finding people who meet the criteria for being skilled surgeons, chess masters, athletes or magicians. Once you start looking at what makes them successful, IQ doesn’t make any difference.”

Ericsson said there is an increasing debate about how a person’s intelligence can be accurately measured.

The standardised IQ tests allow people with extraordinary gifts to slip through the cracks. These people are able to make a huge success of their lives despite being judged as inferior, according to their IQ scores.

American film director Steven Spielberg and British enterpreneur Sir Richard Branson have proven that a high school diploma is not the only route to success.

They carved their own journey to success using their talents and a desire to succeed.

Other historical geniuses who were considered dunces or dropouts were Winston Churchill and Isaac Newton, whose creative outlooks on life were not appreciated by an inflexible schooling system. Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Abraham Lincoln were also not appreciated by the schools of the day. They moved on from “failure” to fame and recognition.

Another U.S. study tracked the graduates of an elite school where entrance required an IQ of 130. The study revealed that, despite their high IQs, these students had average lives and very few were exceptional.

“There were no superstars, no Pulitzer Prize or MacArthur Award winners, and only one or two familiar names,” said lead researcher Rena Subotnik, a psychologist with the American Psychological Association.

Dr Rees Roodt, a local motivational speaker, said, “The root of one’s potential comes from a person’s passion. This amounts to a combination of factors — their interests in life, intelligence in specialised areas, and their desire to pursue their work in the face of adversity.”

Someone who excels at carpentry may have incredible spatial or artistic intelligence, they may become well known in the field of furniture design.

A person who loves food will be willing to learn about cooking and will experiment with food and flavour until they create their own personal cooking style — then they have to work hard to set up their own restaurant.

Jamie Oliver is a good example of a person who has succeeded because of passion and not because of a string of degrees.

For those students who have not performed well in these matric exams, this is not the end of the road.

Discovering your passion and working hard at your talents will also ensure some degree of success. But persistence is the key to a future.

This quote by Calvin Coolidge has become a mantra for many who despaired at their school results …

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persis­tence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Basically, there is no indication that people with higher IQs are able to reach the top faster. Dr K. Anders Ericsson, U.S. professor

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