Saturday, 12 October 2013
Living in a Cardboard Box
How many friends do you have who live in a cardboard box? That's what will happen to you apparently if you fail your English GCSE! It astounds me the pressure that teachers place upon their pupils in Years 10 and 11 and the worst thing is that they seem to believe it themselves.
I want to say to them "but what about Richard Branson, or Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison", but no matter how much I have tried to explain that I don't think good GCSE's necessarily make for a successful life (well not my idea of success anyway) it falls on deaf ears.
The frustrating thing is that actually these teachers represent a 'system' which has had an effect on them as much as on the pupils they teach.In a way they are right.If you are expecting to work for someone, get the Job centre to find you a job and want to earn pots of money then you will have to prove how good you are and if your potential boss has been through the state education system and succeeded academically then he is likely to look at your grades.
Recently my son was looking through a list of apprenticeships. BMW were seeking apprentices and had strict conditions regarding the grades they required.I had no particular problem with that,in fact , I'm sure they have more than enough applicants from which to choose. What I did have a problem with was that the application form had nowhere to enter hobbies, interests and outside achievements.These I think are more revealing of the type of character you are interviewing than any test grade. I was left with the impression that the company must be very narrow minded.
Only the other day my sixteen year old son went to a garage with his dad and was talking to the company director during a test drive. He explained that he was about to start an apprenticeship in vehicle maintenance and repair. The company director said he was seeking an apprentice as he had already unsuccessfully employed three from the local college with no motivation or interest in cars.If my son found that his apprenticeship didn't work out then the garage owner was interested in employing him.That was purely on the basis of meeting my son a chatting to him about his interests.
The company director explained that in interviewing his employees he was looking for a) an interest in cars b) motivation and c) a qualification in motor vehicle maintenance, C was by far his lowest priority.
My son's new employer said the same at interview. They now employ a private firm to train their apprentices as they have found that the students from the local colleges often haven't the necessary practical skills they need.
So whilst I was very proud of my son when he accepted his GCSE certificates and educational vocational award on Thursday I am far prouder of his maturity and wisdom well beyond his 16 years and his determination to do his own thing rather than follow the crowd!
I will let you know Mr Teacher if my son is living in a cardboard box as you predict at the end of the next academic year! I suspect that he will not although I wonder whether your perception of educational success will have changed. I do hope for the sake of all your future students that it has!