Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Be All and the End All

We all want our children to be educational successes - well don't we? We pay for private education, out of hours tutoring (well I didn't but many do), we make them sit selective school exams, we nag about homework, attend Parent Teacher evenings and reward them if some $35,000 a year teacher says they're great and berate them if they're not. We frame their certificates, display their trophies, send them on excursions to Japan and Vanauatu that we can't afford and take great kudos from their academic achievements as if they are the best in show. But the bottom line is, all you can give your kids is a good education and that's not just via the school system. I don't necessarily mean an expensive private education but pay attention to what they're doing at school, support educational initiatives at home and let them know what is available to them when they make that year 12 choice. It isn't easy at 18 to decide what you want to be when you grow up and it certainly isn't made easier when parents have the expectation that their fabulous young prodegy will become a Rocket Scientist.

My two have both attended university. ClareBear sort of likes what she does as a Graphic Designer but is now thinking of moving into Account Management or Web Design. My son is close to the end of his Horticulture degree and one of only 4 students who passed year 3! He's thinking of event management. (Just as well because he's a shit gardener). My niece is a really bright girl. Went to uni and is now serving in a bar and living with a DJ. Another niece scored a great university admission indicator - pursued Optometry for 3 weeks and ended up as a shop assistant. Both my brothers are Electricians and earning more money than I could ever hope to achieve. My brother-in-law is a plumber and simply doesn't do poo any more. My year 10 qualifying sister in law is managing a major health fund branch and making more than I am. My uber bright nephew mucked around in high school and with an intellect that could have seen him achieve an academic career, simply didn't have the application but now he has a trade that will see him well into the future. I'm a teacher who couldn't cop the pace as a youngling and became a copywriter and very ordinary administrator.

My point? Take the pressure off. It's great to have kids who are in the gifted and talented class in 3rd grade, to flash their report cards or brag about their reading age but it's no indication of what they'll become, study or achieve. It's crazy to expect an 18 year old to make a career based decision and choose an educational path to get them there which is why so many flounder in second or third year apprenticeships and university.

Years ago, in a more affluent time, I had cleaners who came in once a fortnight to do bathrooms and floors . . their income was double my so called degree vocation and far more satisfying. They cleaned like dervishes, the house was visibly fantastic when I came home and smelled all disinfecty and wonderful. Neither could read or write but enjoyed an overseas holiday each year, set their children up with a small deposit on their homes and retired fat and happy to Queensland.

As someone who has survived the rigors of good employment, bad employment, temping, redundancy and now a job that pays well but is ultimately unsatisfying, I really wish I hadn't felt the parental pressure to attend university. I would have had so much more satisfaction out of nursing or social work or even dog breeding . . . we are the sum of our parts and educational achievement is a nanospec of our many capabilities and talents. Let's help our younglings discover what's available - only with knowledge comes the ability to make an informed decision about their future - and if it's a wrong decision . . .it's not a hanging offence, there's always time to begin again and try something new.

Here endeth the first lesson.


Grannymar said...

Well said. Well put.

If everyone was a doctor who would empty the bins?

Like water we(people) will eventually find our own level.

Baino said...

What a good phrase! I'll steal that one.

Brianf said...

Youth is wasted on the young.

Baino said...

Oh Brian, you're such an old stick in the mud . . . I disagree, I wish I had the bravado, passion, confusion, elation, good looks and freedom of youth! Now I'm settled and boring and afraid of bungey jumping in case my eyes fall out.

Daz said...

Up yours Brian - you're as immature as I am and you're double my age plus twelve.

Youth is wasted on those who seek to end it.

wordnerd said...

And a fine lesson it is! A-MEN!