Play to your strengths when choosing which subjects to study | Portsmouth High School

Play to your strengths when choosing which subjects to study

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a restful and relaxing break away from the daily grind of school runs and so on.

I was amused to read GDST’s Director Of Innovation and Learning, Kevin Stannard’s, article in the education magazine “Conference and Common Room” about which subjects are harder than others. He starts by recounting a sketch from the comedy duo Mitchell and Webb, set in a suburban dinner party, where one guest is claiming his job as a brain surgeon is more demanding than all others until he comes across the rocket scientist.

As a geographer I have acclimatised to the jokes over the years about the easiness of geography especially when compared with history. Stannard also tells of his days as head of geography at Eton where he learned that in 1961 the advertisement for a geography post said that the successful applicant would not be expected to teach the brightest boys as those taking geography would not be advanced academically. However, those boys would be of considerable personality and with standing in the school.

Thankfully such intellectual snobbery has long since gone but every year I am asked about the relative merits of studying what is perceived by some as a harder subject over an easier one. I always reply that it is hard to judge the level of difficultness of one subject over another as it depends on the individual learner and their strengths. My nephew sailed through his science and mathematics examinations with the highest grades but always struggled with those that required extended pieces of writing and reading.

The Russell group universities have not helped this issue by listing what they term facilitating subjects which are those they rate intellectually stretching over those that are less demanding. Ultimately each student must take the subject that fits best for them and they will enjoy studying. In this term girls choose subjects they will be taking for GCSE and A levels and whilst a study of certain subjects is required for a minority of courses it is always best to play to your strengths.