Some of the richest or most powerful people in the world were like your DS at school. They are late flourishers or school is not suited to their needs. As schools become more and more based on the old grammar school system (Good old Mr Gove!), there will be more and more youngsters for whom school is not the best learning environment, despite the best efforts of teachers.
I would say to accept him as he is, keep encouraging him in his chosen field while at the same time keeping open as many doors as possible and I am sure he will turn out fine in the end.
Orm - are you me ? Could write exactly the same about my ds (did manage to get himself a set of GCSEs and now in L6th), and my dd (about to choose her options). It's taken me a lot of years to temper my frustration at ds, but life's a lot easier on the days when I accept that is who he is.
For comfort - dh told me a few months ago how poorly he did in his GCSEs. I knew he had left the 6th form after the first term and got a job which didn't exactly have a lot of prospects. He was just a 'late developer' when it comes to academic things, and chose to go to night school to do A-levels when he was 20, then off to do a degree (1st Class Honours, in the days when they were rarer ), then a PhD, and is now a Research Fellow and loves the academic life. I'm holding on to this thought that ds may yet flourish later in life
If it's any consolation, I have twins and those descriptions could be of them. It's just their personalities, which I think are a lot more nature than nurture unless the nurture is extreme in some form.
I have 3 children-oldest complete brainbox - lazy, breezed through exams, currently at Oxford; dd-bright but troubled left school before taking gcse's now training as a Beauty Therapist; ds2- gorgeous, not stupid but not interested in school - "he can see into people's hearts though" a teacher recently told me. They could not be anymore different and I have treated them all the same. I have to believe in nature more than nurture.
I can relate to this one; DS (Y7) claims to be targetted with A*s for almost everything, reckons he has the highest targets overall of his classes, BUT he thinks that it will just happen without putting in more than the bare minimum.
I'm feeling a bit cross with the school at the moment, as it seems that in most subjects the teachers put their targets up on the whiteboard for all to see; he scanned down and did some mental maths and now thinks he is "very clever"
He knows he didn't have the best SATS scores so thinks he must have done very well in the MIDYIS (?) tests.
The school's approach has done him no favours at all. I've been trying for years to get him into some sort of work ethic; because he's not THAT bl**dy clever and even if he was, you still have to produce something to prove it!
the more DC you have the more different they can turn out, too.
I have, all fairly close in age, mix of girl & boys:
DC2 & DC4: good-natured, terrific work ethic, mature & organised, thoughtful, very high achieving DC1: polite, thoughtful, "mature", mod high achiever (but lazy streak & very disorganised) DC3: rude, bad-tempered, highly impulsive, emotionally hyper-immature, practically labelled an ill-disciplined brat by teaching staff the other day, uncooperative, just about an average achiever.
H was the same - he hated school, simply couldn't be arsed! Scraped his o-levels, got 2 a-levels (just) and bummed about for years. Went back to university when he was 30 and is now teaching kids with special needs. I just feel that life is less forgiving these days to the undecisive. Hope I am wrong.
DS1 has applied to a furniture making course at college. He also wants to do A-level biology (odd mixture I know). He likes working with wood and has an eye to making instruments in the future - he's already made most of a guitar with H - 'most of' being the operative part of the sentence , as usual his initial enthusiasm has faded somewhat.
My brother was a source of frustration to my parents, only scraped enough Cs at GCSE to get into sixth form, then got mediocre grades in non-academic subjects. He didn't want to go to Uni so moved out of home, got a series of crap jobs, finally found something he was interested in and went to Uni a couple of years later as a mature student and got a First in a highly regarded subject. No one could believe it, but he just needed a bit longer than everyone else to get there.
@Hassled I remember DD1's french teacher comforting me at a parent's evening as the whole thing was such an awful experience. She is always very pleased to hear about DD1 doing well whenever I see her at school events.
Hasten to add, both dd and I had the illusion of brilliance through being in not very challenging cohorts at school - neither of us are or were geniuses, just bright enough to get by without much effort. When parents could envision me, and I can envision dd, doing so much more than 'getting by'.....but....
My DS1 was a train wreck through High School - one parents evening was so bad I cried. He had to retake a load of GCSEs (back in the days when you could) as well as some A Level modules and scraped into Uni (I really didn't see the point of him going). And then suddenly he matured, he found his interest and he worked hard - and he did exceptionally well. All he actually needed all along was the passage of time and the maturity that comes with it.
My point is some teenagers just take longer to get there - your DS may surprise you yet. And if he's just not a natural academic - he'll find his thing.
Strangest of all is how I share everybody else's experience of frustration and bewilderment, and yet I did the bare minimum in most subjects at secondary school, coasting along as far as GCSE (o levels in those days) on the grounds that I could easily pass without making too much effort. I can still read my old school reports and hear teachers grinding their teeth
You'd think I'd be more patient with my eye-rolling 9 year old dd, who does exactly the same, but no!
It's hard. DSS1 is in the final year of French lycée. He is clever (not brilliant) and conscientious, but he has consistently underestimated how much work he needs to do, in particular the depth of understanding he needs to achieve, in order to do really well. It's hard to explain to him because he truly believes he is doing everything expected of him and, up to a point, he is. It's just that he doesn't really put his foot on the accelerator - he thinks that moving along at a steady pace, obeying all the traffic rules, will get him where he wants and we know he's got to step on it and overtake!
"whereupon she was transformed into someone who loved her course so much she added an extra year to it. I worried so much about her along the way but she just hadn't found the vital spark that motivated her. "
That is just the thing with DS1! Every now and again something will grab him and he'll be like a new boy. A new subject, or a different teacher, or moving to secondary school. And we all think 'Eureka! This is it!!!' ..and then it isn't Still waiting for that vital spark. So far they've all been a lot of damp squibs. DD doesn't need to have a vital spark - she just GETS ON WITH IT!
Well OP I'd say this is one of the great mysteries in life I have three DCs and they have very different approaches to life. Its more of a long game than you think though and what matters to you at 14 or 15 doesn't necessarily predict how your life turns out.
GCSEs and A levels just weren't DD1's thing, she's bright enough but was not interested. I did my share of shouting and cajoling and she just about did well enough to get into university (she missed her offer by quite a bit but they still took her) whereupon she was transformed into someone who loved her course so much she added an extra year to it. I worried so much about her along the way but she just hadn't found the vital spark that motivated her.
DD2 sounds just like your DD she was the hard working super achiever who was good at everything that she touched in school and out. Getting glandular fever when she was in year 12 absolutely knocked her for six and she found it really difficult to deal with the fact that she couldn't fulfil the expectations that had built up around. She had to swiftly develop some resilience which will probably do her more good in the long run than any of her A*'s.
And then there is DS - he's 16 and lives in cloud cuckoo land. Who knows what he'll get in his GCSEs it could be 11A*s it could be B's and C's. He's too busy attempting to write a novel to get his homework done or focus on real life but I'm sure he'll be fine in the end.
DS1 is 16. Last week H and I went to his parent's evening. He's done some GCSEs already and is in the throes others now. He has never quite 'got' school - every parents evening and report is the same - 'Intelligent boy, polite, good -natured but doesn't work hard enough' Every bloody time! So we accepted his wasn't going to set the academic world alight - but he loves music and DT so OK, that was going to be the thing he excelled at. Nope. He still hasn't finished his compositions for music, and he hasn't been going to after-school music club. DT? He loves DT apparently - but it's the same old story - behind on his projects, what he does is usually very good but sometimes its clear he doesn't give a stuff. So.... to summarise, he's heading for C grades at GCSE if he is lucky.
DD is 13 and in yr 9. Choosing options soon. Last night was her parents evening. Every teacher we spoke to tells me she could get an A or A* in their subject. The maths teacher nearly wet herself telling us how brilliant DD is (MATHS FFS!!). The art teacher told us that she is natually very talented and it would be a shame for her not to do GCSE in art . And so it went on subject after subject. She works hard, asks questions, is well-behaved etc. So so proud of her!
How does that happen? I am sure we didn't encourage DD more than DS. I am bursting with pride over DD - naturally. I am proud of DS1 too but for different things. Last night I was very pleased but I must admit it was clouded a little bit when I thought of how different an evening we had had with DS1. And I worry about him too