OFF BY A FEW DEGREES

December 31, 2012

It was a TV interview. Some bloke complaining that he had graduated from university but couldn’t get a job despite having a hard-won degree. He had to accept work stacking shelves in the freezer of his local butcher.

I must say, my heart went out to him. Years of work, study and application – and it all came to zero… Well, several degrees below zero.

Had he stopped there, I would have been writing this column with a different slant. But he didn’t stop. Instead, he went on to reveal that his degree was in Art History.

What? At school, a chum of mine took Highers in Art and Mathematics. The only job I could see suited to these qualifications was one that involved painting computers.

But a degree in Art History? Only useful if you’re applying for the post of curator in an art gallery.

I mean, did he really think a pointless degree like that entitled him to a top job and a top salary? It would seem he did.

And he’s not the only one. There are thousands of them out there.

Wealthy teenagers taking courses that have no bearing on real life, and then complaining  they can’t land a job suited to their intellectual and academic capacity. Poor lambs.

A little bit of research reveals that there is a plethora of next-to-worthless degrees. Ask yourself: who is going to employ you just because you have a degree in philosophy. Or psychology. Or – wait for this – David Beckham Studies, from Staffordshire University. I kid you not.

You can even take a Madonna studies module as part of the Gender Course at Harvard. Or Oprah Winfrey studies at Illinois.

There are degree courses in parapsychology at Edinburgh and Liverpool, among others. Very handy if you want to join the Ghostbuster team. However, it’s unlikely to impress a REAL employer who is offering a REAL job.

The first thing youngsters should learn in life is that you must always give the customer what they want. And when the customer is your potential employer, he certainly doesn’t want you waving an archaeology degree in his face.

Unless, of course, you want a job stacking shelves in the local butcher shop. In that case, your degree will do just fine – for swatting flies. Oh, and beating off the bailiffs when they come to collect your student loan.

Drew McAdam


SKOOLS OOT

January 3, 2011

 

Here’s a surprise. Straight into school at 5-years of age has a negative effect on a youngster’s education. Leave it a couple of years, and they will do much better.

Sound crazy? Stick with me a while longer.

Our kids are rounded up and bundled off to school at 5-years of age when, really, they should still be with their family, learning from playing rather than instruction. Growing in confidence and self-reliance, rather than having their imaginations stripped away to fit the acceptable norm.

Now, you would think that the earlier they start the better their education, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, statistics demonstrate the opposite. Top of the European leaderboard in terms of education are countries like Finland and Denmark, where formal education does not begin until the age of – wait for it – seven.

While our kids are being bogged down by a class curriculum, their kids are chasing butterflies, exploring their world and constructing stories with their dollies. Yet the kids left to their own devices consistently obtain higher educational results later in life.

In fact, with the exception of The Netherlands and Malta, we are the only European country jamming our little ones into a contrived learning environment at the age of five. (And sometimes even four!)

According to the Primary Review report, compulsory learning at such a tender age was introduced in 1870 and had nothing to do with learning. Rather, it was a way of combating the negative effect of inadequate and abusive Victorian parents. In other words it was about child protection, not education.

There is no question that kids gain little benefit from formal learning at such a young age. They are not designed that way.

All that would be bad enough, but when they get out of school they have homework. Lots of it… I mean REALLY lots of it. If you don’t believe me, find the parent of an 8-year old and get them to show you. It’s enough to put any kid off education for life.

I swear, some of these tots will spend more time on homework than I found necessary when my O’levels were drawing near. And let’s be honest, all this homework is only so that teachers and educationalists can tick boxes and meet arbitrary criteria set down by the grey men in grey suits. It’s certainly not about teaching the youngsters. No, it’s about paperwork and meeting standards that are based on… well, figures plucked from the air.

Kids are kids. Early and imposed learning will turn them away from the wonder of knowledge. Let them learn from amusing themselves, spending moretime with their family, and having fun – the way it’s meant to be. Let the children play, I say.

Drew McAdam


ATTENDEEISM – A NEW KIND OF HOLIDAY

December 11, 2010

Here’s a new word for you: “attendeeism”. Perhaps it is easiest to explain if you consider it the opposite of “absenteeism”.

Let me explain. During the recent bad weather the local authority took the decision to close the schools. That was their decision. Even if a teacher was willing and able to work, they couldn’t. They had, effectively, been laid off.

Clear? So why does Oor Cooncil then tell those on whom they padlocked the doors that they can either agree to make up the time, or treat the lost days as part of their annual leave? Seriously, that’s what they’re telling them!

So, even if a teacher trudged all the way to the school and then pounded on the locked door… tough. You lose a day’s holiday.

Does that seem reasonable or fair to you? No, nor to me either.

Even the LGE (Local Government Employers) website states that “By closing an office or a school or by instructing employees not to travel to work, the local authority is preventing the employee from working on that day and, as this is through no fault of their own…” Quite right.

And the TUC states that “Scrooge bosses” who… take away holidays are needlessly adding to their business woes by creating resentment amongst staff.” Doesn’t take a genius to work that out – which is why Oor Cooncil haven’t worked it out, presumably.

They go on: “Workers who have been prevented from getting to work… should not have to foot the bill for the bad weather conditions.”

Do Oor Cooncil think the teachers were on sun loungers sipping drinks at the side of a pool? No. They were not on holiday. They were digging their cars out of the snow and trying to clear streets so that if the weather eased they would have a better chance of reaching their place of work the next day. Some “holiday” that. And yet they are being penalised for a High Heid Yin decision to shut the schools.

If I was a teacher being robbed of my holidays I would be making an appointment with a solicitor. There are complicated rules surrounding lay-off clauses, including rules about statutory guarantee payments and so on, and in terms of the law and adverse publicity for their bonkers policy of attendeeism, these couldn’t-hold-down-a-real-job rulemakers wouldn’t stand a proverbial snowball’s chance…

It’s just another example of ill thought out, silly muddle-headedness by Corporate Services (yes, them again) numpties who couldn’t hold down a job in the real world.

Get a life, boys. And let the teachers have their life – and their holidays – too.

Drew McAdam


SCHOOL RULE KICKED INTO TOUCH

October 4, 2010

 

Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has decided to shake up the rules on discipline in schools. It seems that the “no touch” classroom rule is to be scrapped.

He has decided that teachers should be allowed to physically restrain unruly children. And they should be allowed to console victims of playground bullying.

It’s something I’ve heard a lot of parents talk about, and the majority will be in favour of this, I’m sure.

Personally, I have no problem with teachers being allowed to restrain “unruly” children. In fact, I have a whole list of suggested methods for that – though top of the list is ensuring that incompetent teachers lose their jobs, and that only those teachers who can command respect and keep control by sheer force of personality and confidence should work in education.

Having a staff that can actually do the job they are paid to do seems like a good start.

Anyway, I digress. One interesting fact to surface was that there IS no “no touch rule”. Gove, himself, said that there are no nationally imposed rules preventing teachers from touching pupils. He also said that some schools adopt a “no touch” policy because they fear complaints from pupils who are restrained or comforted by teachers.

The “no touch” rule, as far as I can ascertain – and as far as Michael Gove can ascertain – is a myth. It’s nonsense. It doesn’t exist.

In fact, he went on to say that “There are a number of schools that have ‘no touch’ policies and we are going to make clear this rule does not apply.”

Ah, I see. This is something the high-heid yins in the schools have introduced and maintained. Now, they are being told it’s not on.

Quite right. There is not a parent I know who, if their kid fell in the playground and was crying and bleeding, wouldn’t want a teacher to comfort them.

What kind of society have we become where those in education make up a rule that they have to strand idly by while my child – any child – is breaking its heart?

And why? Because it’s easier than dealing with a complaint.

I’m sure the majority of level-headed teachers would ignore the rule, anyway. At least, I would hope so.

Drew McAdam