Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Oi Mate, Mate, Mate, Where's Your Placement?

The return of year ten has been anticipated with some degree of trepidation. I don't know the root cause behind it, and would hesitate to give an answer beyond 'fate', but in every school i have ever attended/worked or observed there has been a 'bad' yeargroup. At my current school it is undoubtedly year 10. The students range from exceptionally clever, Hannibal-style psychopaths to students so vacuous as to be endearing, passing through a spectrum of inevitable generalised insults in the middle of these off-centre poles.

The reason that Year Ten are returning is because they have been absent on that most English of compulsory school activities; Work Experience. I wonder on the point of this horrifying disservice to the reputation of schools everywhere because all it does is seem to make fractured mockeries of the youth of today.

Work Experience is an opportunity for students to fail and by gum by golly do they embrace that opportunity with their sticky, tobacco-stained hands. This year my school had three students who were genuinely asked to leave their work placement. Why? How? I hear your exasperated voices cry. I hesitate and fail to answer, my tongue a fragile, flailing dancer. Part of me imagines that the students sat in front of me, are honest, hardworking parents-to-be who'll honour and abide the law so to nurture and provide for bouncing, smiling little kids who'll lick the bottoms of yoghurt lids.

But this assumption is false. These children have no acceptable world view. They are insipidly useless. I hate to be the sort of person that advocates tough love and rigid structure but some of these students have no idea about the world outside is actually like an environment of consistent stifling. Although, when I say stifling what I really mean is constant lies. I've previously stated that students should know that if they work hard they will do well. Perhaps this is a fallacy.Perhaps it should state if students work hard they will do better.

I am guilty of the lying as I'm sure many of you are. I have always stated I am not a very good teacher.I am guilty saying 'maybe if we retake this and you work really hard then you'll do it.'I am also coming to realise that i should actually listen to the voice in my head that asks me why I am lying to this child. They have failed, and will fail because they have not been told an honest truth for the last 10 years of their live. At no point have teachers been encouraged to tell students how good they actually are and what they should be aiming for. If you are terrible at English there is a strong chance you will not become a Doctor. Or Lawyer. Is this unfair. No. It is very far from unfair. Unfairness is prejudice. Unfairness is also lying to some students and not to others. Unfairness is not being honest with students about how much they are chipping slowly away at their future because they can't be bothered.

I don't quite know what this post wants to achieve. And perhaps tit merely reiterates earlier posts, but it is the students returning from being fired on work experience that have really drilled this into me and left a significant amount of swarf behind.  When will students be told what their attitude towards schooling will do to them in the working world? Will we continue to pander every child at all times. Offices do not have exclusion centres, or reintegration meetings or time out passes. We as educators set children up for failure.

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