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Author Topic: Out of touch...or learning opportunity?  (Read 1831 times)
delboy
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« on: May 28, 2010, 04:21:41 AM »

This is all going to sound like the ramblings of a grumpy old codger. It's not. We all like to see our kids and family having a good time and doing well, but I'm genuinely out of touch with how the education system (and this generation's attitude to employment) has changed.

Take the GF's eldest, she's finished school this week. Although for the two years of 6th form, due to free periods and lack of teachers for some lessons, she has been at home (well, out) more than at school, and any actual teaching finished before Christmas. Late winter and early spring was study leave for mocks... and now it's study leave (lie-ins and pub visits!) for the real exams. Only three papers to sit (most of the marks are based on course-work) and then that's it until Uni next autumn.

The boy, 14, and just finishing his 3rd year - so is about to embark on two years of study for GCSE's - came home recently and said "We're going to take our Religous Studies GCSE this year." I was gobsmacked. In my day, taking GCSE's two years early was child prodigy stuff. They were all doing it as a matter of course. The exam was an hour and a half long, he said he finished it in 40 minutes, double checked his work, still had time left over and it was easy. Potentially one O-level in the bag two years early.

Out for a beer with a friend last night and he said his step-daughter has just finished her degree course. Already? I said. Yep. That;s it. She's gone off on holiday now. They've done the exams? I said. There are no exams, he said. She put in some assignments ("But not many") and that's it. She has a degree in English & Media Studies.

Then there's all of these kids attitude to employment. Of the three mentioned above, and one other who achieved her degree a year ago, none have jobs of any description. Three of them - the GF's two - both had part-time jobs (skittles sticking up for the boy, Saturday shop assistant for the girl) but gave them up as they didn't like them. The girl runs a car (as does both my friend's step daughters). I have no idea how. I sold my car as I couldn't afford to keep it. One of my friend's step-daughters had a full time job in a museum but recently gave that up as she didn't like it either. There's no other job on the horizon for any of these.  And the one who's just graduated said she'll have a break for a while and worry about working sometime in the future.

I envy these kids. I think they have a much better attitude to life than my generation. They are more laid back and casual and don't appear to worry about what might happen or how they're going to pay for it, than the folks of my generation. Maybe there's something we can learn from them?

Del

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Robert B. Parker
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2010, 04:49:01 AM »

Lots of interesting points there. Regarding GCSEs, unfortunately some are so stupidly easy that it makes a mockery of the whole thing, but some are still VERY tough, believe me. I took higher GCSE maths last year, and had to work like fury - and I already had a decent O level in maths. I'm taking higher French this year, and okay, it's not so hard, but it's still taken a lot of study. Foundation level GCSEs on the other hand are a complete doddle and effectively valueless. You could learn the syllabus in an afternoon.

There's the same problem with degrees these days. One of my son's contemporaries is doing a degree in media studies/video or something like that at Leeds. He has to turn up occasionally, and will walk it, without having done much work at all. My son, on the other hand, who won the prize for being biggest brainbox at his school, has been studying pure maths at UCL, recently rated one of the top universities in the world, and has been tearing his hair out at the difficulty and sheer volume of the work. He and his pal will both end up with a degree, but one can't help but feel my son's degree has been somehow devalued by all the ludicrously easy degrees there are about.

Anyway. He's had his last exam, so is free now. He's going to spend the next month gadding about the place -- visiting his sister in Corsica, going to Download, drinking with his mates, etc etc. Then he's starting work, as he intends to sit chartered accountancy exams. He's worked part time with an accountant during his degree to finance his lifestyle, and they want to keep him on. He enjoys the environment, and they value him because he's a hard worker and has the right sort of brain to understand it all.

And there's the key. He's had to work much harder than many, but that's because he's capable of working much harder, and he'll probably end up much happier in the long run as a result than those of his contemporaries who are smugly sailing through easy degrees with few prospects at the end of them.
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delboy
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2010, 05:42:29 AM »

I'm sure improved teaching - or at least improved technologies available to teachers - has helped make learning easier, so there's potentially a very good reason that in some subjects scores are improving. But I agree, there's a huge discrepancy between subjects in terms of what it takes to pass.

That said, in business terms, having a degree might get you through the door, or to an interview, but it's then that a person's real qualities have to shine through.

Derek
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Robert B. Parker
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