Tuesday 20 November 2018

Amanda Brunker: 'I didn't sit the Leaving Cert and I've done okay in life'

Amanda Brunker
Amanda Brunker

Amanda Brunker

As the decades have rolled by I have learned a few things about life.

Don't worry, I'm not going to start a rant about how much harder it is for a girl-child in this big bad world of ours. I'll leave that moan for when I'm having a more grotty day, and then I'll really let rip.

No, I'm talking about exams. I've seen trends in subjects and careers morph and change, and watched as more and more people creep out of the shadows to admit they actually failed their exams yet won at life.

Come this time of year, when the Leaving and Junior Cert students are in the throes of exam hell and their parents are slipping whiskey into their coffees to get them through the tantrums that they must ignore, successful celebs feel obliged to share how much of a f**k-up they were at school - it's their way of giving back.

Amanda Brunker with her sons L to R: Setanta (8) and Edward (9) McLaughlin
Amanda Brunker with her sons L to R: Setanta (8) and Edward (9) McLaughlin

Bill Gates is probably the best example. He's spoken at length about his failures. As one of the world's richest men, he's given many inspirational speeches, but I especially love this quote: "I failed my exams in some subjects but my friend passed in all. Now he's an engineer in Microsoft and I am the owner."

Bill isn't, of course, suggesting that students should actively try and flunk their exams (as if) - but he is definitely highlighting that exam results are not a deciding factor in whether you succeed in life or business. Many rich and powerful people don't have a school or college education.

Simon Cowell, Sir Lord Sugar, Jeremy Clarkson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robbie Williams and Russell Brand are just some of the Brits that failed their exams.

Political commentator Brand even tweeted: "Good luck with your exams but don't take it seriously. I have no A-Levels and am now studied for A-Level, it's all rhubarb."

Amanda Brunker
Amanda Brunker

Many of the original great thinkers, like Albert Einstein (who was dyslexic), Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton dropped out of school. One of the greatest directors, Steven Spielberg, and two of the world's greatest writers, Stephen King and WB Yeats, did the same. And amazingly, business moguls Beyoncé and Oprah were failures at school too - but they totally won at life.

Sadly, I can't place myself anywhere near any of those names when it comes to success, but I'd like to think I've done okay down through the years and I never even sat the Leaving Cert. Admittedly, it wasn't ideal not having my exams, but I hated school and I hated my old, grumpy teachers and I couldn't wait to leave the place.

Sure, some professions require years of exams, but plenty of careers don't. So try not stress. Straight As genuinely aren't the only way to fill up your bank account.

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