Friday, 8 February 2013

Motivating our children: a recollection

Thought you might like this recollection of an encounter with a Local Education Authority's 'Careers Advice' person form the sixties:

"The interview took place in one of the classrooms with the 'Career's man' sitting behind the desk smoking his pipe (the reason the boys gave him the nickname, 'Maigret'). After having been told to sit, I was asked what I wanted to do. My answer to this was that I wanted to be an electrical engineer.

The Career's man looked at my school reports for a few minutes and then, not even looking at me, told me he knew of a local builder who was looking for someone to work with him and that this, having 'read' my reports was the 'career' I was obviously best suited to. When I protested he shot me down by telling me that my maths wasn't good enough to be and that if I persisted in 'demanding' a job in that area the careers service would refuse to assist me with such folly.

Suffice to say that my response saw me in the Deputy headmaster's study getting the cane and having to write a letter of apology for my ingratitude and rudeness!

A few weeks later the process was revisited and as I walked in to the classroom my career's advisor (laughing) greeted me with, "Aha, the electrical engineer.  Come to your senses yet boy?'

I responded that indeed I had and, with a bit of a smirk, explained that I had already had three interviews and practical assessments and was about to go for my final interviews for apprenticeships in various areas of science and technology. I thanked him for his 'most enlightening and motivational help and wished him farewell.' As I stood up he told me to sit as he needed to enter the details of the companies and interview dates for his records.

As I made my exit I turned and said, 'Why not put down the name of the building firm and save us both time?'   I think the sight of his red face will live with me for ever.

When I compared notes with some of the other boys I found that they had fared no better than I at the first meeting with the man (who later became head of the County Careers Service) and a couple of stories I can remember went like this:

Wanted to be: Aeronautical Engineer
Suggestion: General airport work
Ended Up: Fully certified Engines and Airframes engineer (living in the US)

Wanted to be: Footballer
Suggestion: Woodsman or forestry worker
Ended Up: After footballing apprenticeship went on to become PE Teacher.

The account of the career advice given then, and now, and the battle with the Hounslow school all conspire to challenge me to challenge others. Motivating our children with regard to their future employment is an area I have never thought of as being something Church should be engaged with but if we don't see past community history and demographics, if we don't see past low-attainment family histories to encourage the next generations to fulfil their potential, who will? IMD is a pointer to the areas that need input not a death knell!



Polity Pete said...

Our careers master encouraged those whom he considered to be a dull and lacking in wit to join the Army.

Those who were inconsequential and lacking in presence he encouraged to join the Church.

The best and the brightest were encouraged to apply to Oxbridge and those who he hadn't placed were pointed to commerce or teaching.

Makes reunions fun as we have more clerics, Army officers and teachers than anything else.

And me?

I ended up as a Insurance man

Soup D said...

I honestly cannot remember ever having a careers advice interview: perhaps coming from the North-East and living in an unemployment blackspot within the area, it was considered a waste of time?

Or maybe it was so deeply forgettable that I fail to remember it!