Why Schools Fail Students

Author: Edducan

Charles Ponzi. Bernie Madoff. Benedict Arnold. Richard Nixon. Lance Armstrong. Some copper-bottomed, hall of fame, heavy weight champions of world class liars. Their very names are synonymous with deception, lies, fabrications, flights of fancy and half truths. Notably absent from that list is ‘every school in the UK’. However, and it’s a big ‘however’, this is a catastrophic omission that everyone has been complicit in.

Okay, maybe not ‘every’ school but certainly it’s true that from time immemorial the education system has been comprehensively failing to prepare their young charges with the skills, tools and knowledge to make informed choices about their futures. The guy at my school threw a psychometric test in front of us, asked if we wanted to be lawyers and drifted off into an ante-room, the subject never to be discussed again. Corralled into university courses that serve only to line the universities’ pockets and boost the schools’ stats, there are generations of degree-qualified, directionless, unemployable young adults drifting from hairnet and name-tag to hairnet and name-tag in a series of jobs that on paper they should have left behind. Worthless degrees are almost a cottage industry in the UK and it’s been allowed to happen because of years of schools creating an atmosphere of rank terror that tells kids without a degree they may as well abandon all hope.

Of course degrees are wonderful and schools should rightly encourage ambition, but it’s surpassed that lofty goal and become a rote exercise in getting them out the door so they can pat themselves heartily on the backs and congratulate one another on a job well done. Three years after the fact when these poor, mis-sold kids emerge from Westminster University with a degree in David Beckham Studies and £50,000 of debt it doesn’t affect their stats so why should they give a shit right?

edducan uni

The crazy thing is I thought people would care about this, that they would share my outrage so I asked the schools, the parents, the LEAs, the MP, even the local paper to try and help me raise awareness, I assumed that this is an issue that they would want to solve. Turns out they really didn’t. The schools were defensive, the parents in denial, the LEAs resigned, the MP ineffectual and the local paper more interested in generating revenue than news. So now I resort to huffing and puffing on the internet like so many other frustrated keyboard warriors.

Seeing Both Sides of the Coin

Working in recruitment and as an academic advisor I see both sides, I hear employers lament the lack of quality and I see schools making great claims about how wonderfully they’re performing. Ofsted estimates about 70% of schools are failing to give the right quality and amount of help in careers advice, The Sutton Trust concurs, as does the DfE, the LEAs and employers. In fact the only people who disagree are the schools.

Microcosmically the area I live in, I’ve contacted, spoken to or met every secondary school in the Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East regions. Several times. With the exception of private clients and a few bold schools this has yielded almost no work. Because ‘they do all this already’. Not with outside providers you understand, heaven forefend they actually engage experts in the field, no, no – they simply draw on the wellspring of their already overstretched faculty, who by the very nature of their profession, are only qualified to tell students about accessing a career in teaching. My business partner, a qualified teacher, holds qualifications in teaching English as a second language, the fundamentals of college counselling and a PhD from Columbia University and me with 14 years of getting people jobs, writing CVs, interview coaching, developing professional comportment and networking skills should quite rightly defer to a 23 year-old graduate who’s somehow ambled arse backwards into the position of Head of Careers. As well they should, given their background in teaching Geography.

 

Wilful Blindness

Conversations I’ve had include gems like, ‘60% of our students go on to Russell Group universities.’ What about the 40% that don’t? I presume it must be even more exciting, so much so they couldn’t bring themselves to tell me. The Chair of Governors of a free school described our offering of careers and university advice as the ‘latest fad’. Yup, apparently preparing students for life after school is a passing whimsy. One school’s quick to assure me when I make contact they are on top of things because they have their DT teacher on the case. Phew. Without knowing what we can offer, the schools dismiss outside help without a second thought, such is either the level of arrogance or the wilful ignorance of how badly what they’re doing is regarded by anyone who actually knows what they should be doing. When we offered to host free seminars to let parents and students know they had options they would return to their blank-faced, unblinking menhir like ‘computer says no’ response. Unassailable, unreasonable and completely unwilling to loosen their stranglehold – the mentality seems to be one of:

‘I don’t care how badly we’re doing it, we mustn’t let anyone else try and do it better.’

We conducted a survey asking people their feelings on the provision available and what became clear was the amount of trust conferred to schools, trust that’s not been reinforced by facts or even anecdotal evidence just blind faith. We collectively have allowed them to enjoy this feted position as the guardians of our children’s futures and ceded responsibility but haven’t held them to account when it starts to unravel. They employ antiquated techniques, hangovers from a bygone era and hope that by giving kids access to a few links detailing what jobs exist they’re fulfilling their obligations. It’s beyond reckless, it’s borderline criminal.

sheffield

 

 

So what can be done? Lobby the schools, push them to explain how and why they feel a woodwork teacher is the best person to tell their children how to access a career in bio-engineering or arts administration or how to study overseas, or get grants and scholarships to work in molecular biology. Ask them what qualifies them to tell kids how to write a CV or how to interview.

Or how to get work experience and conduct informational interviews. Or network. Or how to construct an application for an apprenticeship or job or university personal statement. Ask them to prove that they’re one of the illustrious 30% of schools that are getting at least some of it right. If they can’t answer those questions then speak to your MP. Or read my book.

 

Edducan is a blogger helping parents and students alike get the best from education and carve the life they want.

Check out his website here:

https://edducan.blog/

The Pinnacle of Settlement

Author: Revels

The funny thing about our generation is that apparently there have been a lot of firsts. Breaking stereotypes has become the stereotype – and if you’re not breaking one, you’re supporting someone doing it. Different perceptions have offered varying opinions on whatever happens, but it does not change the fact that we have decided to take matters into our own hands, to disrupt tradition and say no without worrying about the world abandoning us because there’s always someone out there in favour of the drift.

 

Our traditions developed somewhere along the long way that humans have come – we hunted, moved a lot, didn’t have proper language until slowly we realised proper ways to settle, communicate and gather food. We created proper housing, transportation, farmed and processed more food, institutionalised education systems, political systems and so much more until we had achieved a system of living we were satisfied with.

Our people first settled as tribes, then as joint families, then as separate families and eventually people started living on their own. We might just have reached the pinnacle of settlement – did anyone ever think someone would be able to live in a place of their own without fear of security or starvation? People always settled in groups because there was strength in numbers – and as we breathe in an era where anyone can live by themselves, we see a new concept – people not wanting to live in one place at all.

To experience more cultures, to see other areas of the world, a group of people have now decided to never stay in one place, to move from one city to the other, from one country to the next, using their skills to earn whatever amount of money they require to keep going. A rather ironic change, just as we have what we had aimed for, some folks prefer the nomadic way of life. Settling is perhaps not in everyone’s nature, and in a world where nomadic tribes were slowly decreasing, we might see a new kind of nomad. A nomad who has decided to leave the ways he or she is accustomed to and to find fulfilment through a ritual of the past. Are humans really never satisfied with what they have? Or has the age old tradition come knocking again?

 

The group of people devoted to traveling in such a way might be small, but our generation has been the first to have a majority who prefers traveling to settling down and building a house and a family.Could our roots be coming back to take us around and help us realize how being successful does not lie in financial security but rather in learning to connect with the world and embrace the wonders it comes with?

Could this be the next thing our generation takes hold off? Could this end racial and nationalistic differences? Could this wipe away general ignorance and end more stereotypes?

Only the future knows.

Revels is a Pakistani student, blogger and contributing writer at The Conversation Room 

You can visit her excellent blog here:

https://identity17.wordpress.com/

 

Why I’d Vote For Corbyn

Professor Noam Chomsky speaks to BBC Newsnight to discuss the anger which has raged across the Middle and Working Classes of Western democracies since the economic collapse in 2008.

Discussing the roots of the anger, the rise of far right nationalism as well as the optimistic signs of youth galvanisation around progressive policies on climate change and income inequality – Chomsky discusses why he would vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the UK general election in the context of Brexit.

This is a riveting interview from one of the words best known progressive public intellectuals and gives some interesting insights into the global order and future of western democracy.

Why Science is Bigger Than Politics

Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses the ignominious dismissal of science in the political arena. Arguing that if those in power think that science is just an opinion and begin to implement policy and legislation in that vein, then that is beginning of the unravelling of an informed democracy.

If the scientific method is reduced to something that people think is an opinion and is thought to be a partisan issue. Tyson argues this is a fundamental misconception of what science is and why it works. And how this mistrust shows the poor standards of the american education system. There is legitimate scepticism on scientific claims due its funding and the vested interests in the carrying out of the research and then there is flagrant denial of scientific consensus based on nothing but feeling.

This is an engaging and lively monologue which touches on the american political climate and the mistrust in science without evidence to refute scientific claims.

 

Wikipedia Proves Fake News Hysteria is Bullsh*t

Katherine Maher, executive director at the Wikimedia Foundation discusses how Wikipedia went from a site loaded with errors and false information to the world’s trusted open encyclopedia.

Through the process of constant self improvement and a dedication to ensuring accurate information, Wikipedia shows that sorting fact from fiction is a much easier job than has been made out from public figures such as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Maher suggsts that the way news is consumed and how information is spread is more the problem than fake news itself.  It is the profiteering, commercial model of clickbait and stretching of truth as companies and individuals fight for our screen time that must be seen as the focal point of fake news.

She states the product design is flawed and the major providers need to take a stand on the way information is presented to the consumer and allowing quick resolution to removing what is fake, just as Wikipedia has done:

“When I’m looking at a Facebook feed I don’t know why information is being presented to me. Is it because it’s timely? Is it because it’s relevant? Is it because it’s trending, popular, important?
All of that is stripped out of context so it’s hard for me to assess: is it good information that I should make decisions on? Is it bad information that I should ignore? And then you think about the fact that all of the other sort of heuristics that people use to interpret information, where does it come from? Who wrote it? When was it published? All of that is obscured in the product design as well.”

So does Fake News really have the problem or is this an obfuscation of what is really causing the spread of misinformation?

How Social Media is Shaping Our Thought Patterns

In this extraordinary clip Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine reveals how social media is actually physically rewiring our brains.

The addictive nature of social media has become starkly apparent as anyone who takes public transport will be aware. Yet its capacity to manipulate and reshape our brains is something not often discussed and something parents should be particularly aware of in relation to exposing their children to smartphones.

 

Stop Thinking You Need Motivation.

Mel Robbins in this interview for Impact Theory explains why she believes motivation to be a debilitating concept which holds people back. She argues that people get fixated with the idea that “one day” they will do the things they really want to do and all that is missing is courage and motivation.

In reality however, it will always be difficult to do things which create risk in our lives and this belief in motivation contradicts the way in which are brains are designed.