Jesus At the Blackboard: You can only do your best

This is a post in a series, Jesus At the Blackboard, a place to come and share our stories about educational choices in order to broaden the conversation without making parents feel bad about themselves. You can find all of the posts in this series here.

Sarah McCarten and I met through the e-course I can’t stop talking about. She is thinks deeply and I am grateful for this sharp and articulate piece.

You can only do your best.

I’m pretty sure the Gnostics are wrong and that Jesus and Mary Magdalene didn’t have children.* If they did though, I’m convinced they wouldn’t have sent them to a Christian School. In a where would Jesus school, I’m pretty sure an independent Christians school would score pretty low, but that’s exactly where my parents sent me.

I went to a run of the mill primary school, I wasn’t at the top of the class but I certainly wasn’t at the bottom. In those days, in my town, we had middle schools too, so at the age of 9 I went to my local middle school. At the end of my first term there I got a glowing report, things were going well. However, by the end of the year, the report wasn’t so good. I wasn’t the worst in the class, by any means, but I wasn’t where I should have been. My parents were so cross, not with me, but with my teacher, how could she have let them believe I was doing well, when in fact the truth was far from that. They’d lost their faith in our school system.

During that first year at middle school plans were emerging in our city for a Christian school to be opened. We’d heard about it, but thought it would be too expensive, and anyway my mother doesn’t drive so how would they get me there. More than that I’d been doing aright in normal school. Since the bad report though, they’d been reconsidering, They worked out that they’d be able to afford it, and that a lady my mum knew would be able to give me a lift there. Amazing. I remember the headmaster coming to our house for the interview, and leaving us with the uniform order form and an offer of a place.

In the first few years there it was great, really great. I did so much better than I would have in a state school, after a half a term or so my parents also decided to enrol my sister, and because the school was so small, even though we were 3 school years apart, we were in the same class. My sister is much cleverer than I am so she was able to help me with homework and stuff. It was also in the first year there that they discovered that I’m dyslexic and so were able to help my parents put measures in place to deal with that. For that I will always be grateful.

I could write, and have, about the things that made the school bad, I could tell you about how always being bottom of the class (I was in a class of 6 for my GCSEs) made me insecure, about how the fact that the uniform faith that the people there seemed to possess made me feel like I didn’t know Jesus. But I won’t because that’s not what this is about. It’s about honouring my parents for the choices they made and the sacrifices they went through.

I guess what I’d want to say to you, is do your best, you won’t get it right, but your kids will thank you for trying your best.

As a child, I was so inquisitive, I wanted to know, why, how and when. My school often wasn’t the place to ask those questions. Home was. I learned so much from the people in my family, especially my grandparents. Sometimes, I’ll be thinking about something, and I’ll wonder how do I know that, often it’s because one or other of my grandparents told me. It’s astonishing really.

I remember sitting in a maths lesson, we were studying trigonometry, I remember asking my teacher, why the heck we needed to know this, what purpose it would serve in life. He listed a host of jobs that might need this skill; have I ever used it? I think you know the answer. The things I learned from my family though, they’ll last a lifetime, the love of books, how to explain the bible, patience.

Even though I feel like I went to school for a long time, I found the days so long and I spend many of my waking hours there, I loved sleep then as much as I do now. I learned the thing I remember now, in places other than school.

* Of course they’re wrong, there is not a shred of biblical evidence for this; but humour me for a moment would you?


sarah mccarten

Sarah McCarten is a 30-year-old blogger/nanny. She’s from Yorkshire, but resides in Richmond in South West London, although you’ll often find her pottering around Watford. She loves Jesus, is passionate about theology, and she thinks she might want to be a vicar one day. She loves to write, sew, read, and cook. She’s not as funny as she thinks she is. She pretty much has the best friends in the world.


She blogs here and tweets here.


1 thought on “Jesus At the Blackboard: You can only do your best

  1. Pingback: You can only do you best. A guest post for Abby Norman. | Sarah McCarten

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