Never be defined by a number: What does the ATAR really tell us?

I really lIMG_2461ove teaching… it is an amazing profession. I am not sure what I like the most about it: possibly introducing students to new concepts, seeing that moment when they grasp a new idea or the ability shine a light onto something that has not been part of their consciousness before! Or maybe it is is when the students teach me something new.


I have just returned from a lecture tour of China and Taiwan which included, amongst other things, running innovative teaching workshops (see photo). In these workshops I asked people what they enjoyed most about teaching: they invariably say it is the student interactions… an answer that is the same in each and every country I have asked that question!


And what do they hate the most? The answer is always when students focus on the results and not the learning!


This is a by-product of our education system that is focussed on outcomes. This outcome has been the focus in Australia over the last few days as students receive their Higher School Certificate results. It is a single number – a percentage – and it often comes to define how people see themselves!

In an article I wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald I outline how this should not be the case: the article is available here. I am now a full professor but struggled through school and the university. I took a different pathway – as many of the most successful people I know did!


My message is clear: do not be defined by a number… and never let roadblocks stand in the way of your dreams!

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One Response to Never be defined by a number: What does the ATAR really tell us?

  1. Lauren Hu says:

    An inspiring article to share with people of all ages. Thanks again, James!

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