Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Really, who needs an education?

"Drop out and get a trade!" says the prime minister of Australia, one Mr John Howard. Our PM believes that more teenagers should be considering dropping out of school in year 10 to pursue a trade, rather than staying on another two years to complete their senior schooling. This comment was made in response to a recent report outlining the declining number of skilled tradespeople in the Australian workforce.

In coming to this just brilliant conclusion of trying to take even more education opportunities from the youth of Australia (Howard's views on the running of universities are for another time), there are some things little Johnny said that I do agree with:

[From the ABC news website, http://abc.net.au]

JH: "We went through a generation in this country where parents discouraged their children from going into trades. They said to them, 'the only way you will get ahead in life is to stay at school until year 12, go to university'. High year 12 retention rates became the goal, instead of us as a nation recognizing there are some people who shouldn't go to university and what they should do is at year 10, decide they are going to become a tradesman."

I must say I agree with most of this. Many parents probably believed (falsely) that going to uni was the only way to get ahead in life, and may have forced these beliefs onto their children. Also, there are people who shouldn't go to university. Actually, "shouldn't" is not the right word. It's not that such people don't deserve to go or are not the right people who should be there. Rather, university is just not their thing and they probably don't want to go anyway.

Now if someone recognizes when they are in year 10 that uni just isn't for them, and want to become a tradesman then that's great. (I wanted to be an accountant at the start of yr 10, but a subject on business principles helped me over that problem!)

But why do they have to leave school then and there to do it? Is it so wrong to want to complete your education, even if you're not going to go on and do some more at university? There are many reasons why I don't agree with leaving in yr 10 to go get a trade, and not all of them are based on pure academic pursuits.

Firstly, I can see no problems with any "tradies" who have a good education (in the traditional sense). Things we learn in school are not just facts and figures, but ways of thinking, problem solving and communicating with others. Skills that apply in all aspects of life.
Being someone who lives to learn, I think giving up on two years of education is such a waste, especially when making the decision at age 16 - no the most rational time of life for anyone!

As you may have noticed technology has advanced over the past decades. Do you think trades such as carpentry, roofing, plumbing etc have not? With such advancement you may think that doing a trade may require a better educational background than in the past?

Now it's time to reminisce. My senior year in high school was one of the best of my life. Full of hard work and stress, but lots of good mates and good times. Teachers treated you less like children and more like equals, adults and in some cases, friends. You were eased into responsibility, while still getting the chance to act young and make mistakes. Oh yeah, and party ridiculously hard, with a like-new liver, ready to take on all challengers!

The real-world outside of school can be rough and the support and help on offer in schools - from teachers and the like, but more importantly from your mates, who are there everyday - doesn't exist. In many cases, you're on your own.

There are many things you learn in the last two years of high school that are not taught in textbooks. After yr10, teachers start to give you a little respect, and the chance to earn more. You're eased into the responsibilities the freedom after school provides, rather than being thrown into the deep end. I have known friends who left school early because they couldn't handle the teachers "picking on them" or all the rules stifling them. Suddenly having all the responsibility for their lives upon themselves didn't work out real well them. Some are only now, much later getting their lives back on track. Others were not so lucky...
Getting a head start on a trade in the real world at only 16 may be the worst mistake you could make.

Again, the parties in my senior year were some of the best I've ever been too, and the people I met have stayed friends for the rest of my life. There's a lot you learn outside of school during those years as well. An education that can only leave you better equipped for life.

Having a girlfriend who is a high school teacher means I have an inside of schooling (and a lot of opinions on the topic). Many schools offer vocational training for students during their senior years, including practical components. Increasing vocational education opportunities at schools and beyond seems a much better solution than telling kids to quit school.

C'mon little John, you want to take away university education, at least let us finish high school!


At 3/07/2005 09:49:00 pm, Blogger mick said...


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Children with ADHD

There is a perplexing state of affairs in today's society, there lies a strong correlation between the affluence of a society and the amount of disease that is present. There is also another correlation that troubles many a people and that is with affluence comes disease at an Earlier age.

Working with children and the parents of these children I often get asked the question, 'Why are Children with ADHD on the increase?'

The answer as you shall find is one that is both interesting and challenging.

Children of today are really no more different from the children of yesterday in terms of genetic makeup. However, if you examine the issue more closely you will tend to find that many children today have been given labels. For example, 'Oh, those are children with ADHD' or 'Those are the children who can't sit still.' Or 'That is the kid that always gets into trouble.'

These labels are not only destructive but also become a self fulfilling prophecy as it is repeated adnauseum.

So as a 21st century parent or a parent with a child with ADHD or a parent with children with ADHD, what knowledge framework do you need to equip yourself with to ensure your children live out their true potential?

Here is a quick reference list for thinking about ADHD
� ADHD is a source of great frustration because it is misunderstood
� ADHD medications are a great short term time buying device and should be avoided long term
� The above point goes for any sort of drug consumption. Think about it for a minute. Unless you have a biochemical deficiency in your body like Type 1 diabetes where your body fails to produce enough insulin or any at all, why would you take an external drug? A body that is in balance is totally healthy. It is only when the body is out of balance that dis-ease symptoms start to creep up.
� ADHD is a biochemical imbalance of the mind and body.
� The Head of Psychiatry in Harvard states that drugs for ADHD simply mask the effects of ADHD. It does not cure ADHD. This is an important point because a cure implies never to have to take the medication. This means that once you start on medication you will have to be on it for the rest of your life i.e. you have medically acquired a dependency for a biochemical imbalance. That is like stuffing all your rubbish (problematic behaviors) into a closet (medication) where no one can see it. But if you continue to stuff more rubbish into that closet, one day you will not have enough space and need to do one of two things. You either empty the rubbish (the natural conclusion) or you get a bigger closet (i.e. change to stronger medication to control the symptoms). The choice is obvious but sometimes when you don't have the necessary tools to deal with ADHD you tend to think the bigger closet is the only option.
� ADHD children are super sensitive to the emotions around them. Often they pick up emotional cues from their parents without realizing. Many parents come home frustrated or annoyed from work, the child with ADHD picks this up and starts to 'cause trouble' by becoming restless. Parents frustration increase because they just want some peace and quiet. They get angry which in turn is picked up by the child who then intensifies their activity. Things get way out of hand and some sort of punishment is handed down to the child who has no idea what just happened. The cycle repeats itself every so often.
� Our brains are wired emotionally. Positive praise is interpreted as an analytical/thinking exercise. Negative criticism including scolding, name calling, physical punishment all go directly to the emotional brain of children with ADHD. This means in order to ensure you get your message across in the most optimal way, you need to learn how to communicate with your ADHD children the way they like to be communicated with.
� Every negative comment requires 16 positive comments to neutralize the emotion. Save yourself the frustration and agitation by practicing positive communication.

The list is by no means complete. In dealing with children with ADHD there are a certain set of behavioural principles to follow. I will detail these steps in the coming weeks. I'll also build on the list as you continue to learn about what appears to be a mystical disorder known as 'Children with ADHD'

At 9/02/2009 02:23:00 am, Anonymous Tradesman Tom said...

Qualified Tradesmen are a dying breed. I think it is good to allow kids to get skilled and make a living but not at the expense of their education. It needs to be another choice, not an either or!

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