Speaking as a teacher of creative and transactional writing for more than 60 years, it warms my heart to see the massive potential that is available. If the authorities have any sense, they would listen to these young voices.
It is not a cry for free education or for things to be brought down. They are appealing to our better natures to wake up from jaded antiquity and make space for fresh unsullied minds.
This week I am targeting the matrics of 2019.
The exam is not designed to trip you up.
It will only test your subject knowledge and your self-belief.
It will test your commitment and fearlessness.
Accept that you can only be tested on what you were taught.
Accept that you must start your routine of revision, retention, interpretation - indeed, all the skills that will earn you the accreditation and access to higher learning.
Your preparation is not only about the accumulation of data. You must also treat yourself well. Give yourself enough time to rest and sleep. Treat tensions by breathing deeply and exhaling slowly to clear the cobwebs and slow the heart rate. Consult your support group. It could be mom or dad, uncle or nephew, neighbour or a class-mate, a phone call away.
Start and end your day by thanking your Maker for the grace and mercy that has carried you this far. This can never be a waste of your time.
It will give you serenity.
Don’t rush your meals because you think about the mountain of work that awaits. Savour your food. It is the fuel that will keep you firing at full throttle during a three-hour paper.
Do isometric exercises where you sit. That means stretching and tightening muscles. Muscles of the back, the tummy, the shoulders, the legs, the feet, the hands. Take charge of your body.
Talk to yourself. Say: “I can do this. Others have gone before me, some smarter, some less smart. But none of them were me. I am unique. I am in control of my emotions, my self-belief, my faith-orientation. I am ready for battle.”
Do not mix with people who are loud, or vain, or inconsiderate.
The world won’t change to accommodate you and your very real anxieties. Tap into the cosmic clockwork. It is ticking steadily, no slower and no faster than it has to.
Pace yourself. The days will pass in their allotted time. And you will do well because you can.
Read the words of Invictus, the poem by WE Henley.
Take courage. Have faith. And believe.
PS Parents, if your matriculants don’t read newspapers, read the above to them.
* Literally Yours is a weekly column from Cape Argus reader Alex Tabisher. He can be contacted on email by [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.