Thursday, 7 February 2013

Motivating our children

And setting their sights high - surely one of the goals of education.

Education is not about maximising the child's earning potential but helping them to fulfil the potential that they have to be exactly who they are and to do what they might actually enjoy, or even be 'called'  to do and be.

But apparently I am greatly mistaken as the recounting of a recent 'careers' lesson at one of our local schools clearly shows. Here's a brief rendition of the lesson as performed by the reduced 'Vic the Vicar' theatre company:

"Good morning children, welcome to the careers lesson. I am Ms Nohope; let's begin with some ground rules:

First, it's a very good idea to be realistic and to start from the very first stages of thinking about what you want to do by realising that you won't be living out your dreams when you enter the world of work; so let's drop ideas of being footballers, singers, actors or other glamorous jobs and start thinking about jobs you can really do! Jobs like working in supermarkets, shops and perhaps even motorway service areas.

Now we've got that out of the way you need to realise that setting your sights too high just leads to disappointment (thinks to self: I never thought I'd end up in up place like this!) and it's better to aim low and get what you can, isn't it?

So (points to pupil), what you you like to be? (The answer is that they'd like to be a doctor)

Well that's good but you'd be better off perhaps trying to be a nursing auxiliary as that's probably within your grasp.

Yes, I know you want to be a doctor but I know about these things and that's not really realistic from a school like this (thinks: in a town like this) and you'll only end up disappointed whereas if you take my advice you'll get what you want and have a nice blue uniform too!

Yes, I do know what I'm talking about - I'm just trying to help you make choices that you have a chance of fulfilling. "

Scene shimmers and lesson ends leaving our heroic careers teacher to dream about what would have happened if they had only managed to become whatever it was that they failed to do. . . . .  And the children to accept that they are but plebs - yes, schooling is no longer aspirational and enabling, it is merely the means by which those who have are given more and those from less aspirational areas are schooled to accept their lot (and to know their place).

Many years ago I found myself in a headmaster's office in Hounslow fighting with teachers who regarded the kids from the estate I served as nothing (at best) more than potential baggage handlers, airport workers and shop workers. All they sought to do was contain the kids until the reached an age where they could be sent out into the world to take their place in the world of benefits, social housing or the airport.

I struggled to get the school to raise its game and serve their pupils better - but like DH Lawrence's  lovely Miss Brangwen they merely clung to the belief that it was cruel to show them a wider world when all they had was Hounslow West and no aspirations.

It was wrong then and it is wrong now. I fought then and, no surprise coming, I'm willing to take up the gauntlet again, especially as we see our state school system eroded and destroyed by Adonis' disgraceful class engineering that is Academies.

Game on teacher Dudes - Molesworth was right: 'Down with Skool!'

1 comment:

KevinnLindsay-Smith said...

Thanks Vic. It seems we remain at the political wymm of results driven rather than aspirational driven outcomes. As a retired attendance professional I cower at the continual celebration of 100% attendance only when other realistic attempts to improve those who haven't been at school, often through no fault of their own, being ill isn't a crime but an occurancies, and managing effective attendance practice is sadly often lacking in the majority of schools. Rant over. Your brother Kev...