I recently came across an interesting post in a parents forum, which I think raises questions about the nature of our education system. These words were attributed to Bill Gates, when he was speaking to a group of High School pupils, although I believe this is now known to be untrue. They are, nonetheless, interesting:
- Life is not fair – get used to it!
- The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
- You will not make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone – until you earn both.
- If you think your teacher is tough – wait until you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
- Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a word for burger flipping – they called it opportunity.
- If you mess up it’s not your parents’ fault – so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
- Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening about how cool you are. So before you save the rainforests from the parasites of your parents’ generation try delousing the closet in your own room.
- Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have done away with failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.
- Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers and Christmas breaks off, and few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.
- Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
- Be nice to nerds – chances are you’ll end up working for one!
While I would never advocate treating school like in the same way as the world of work, I would definitely argue for more of a transition from school to work.
The anecdotal evidence is that schools are often so desperate to maintain good standing on league tables that they hold their pupils hands every step of the way, force feeding them information and allowing them to resit exams. In the real world if you don’t work, you get sacked, and this is the harsh truth.
As a society I feel that we place too much emphasis on our rights, and not enough on our responsibilities. Kids often feel that they have a right to do whatever they want, and if they’re punished or if they fail, then the teachers have somehow denied them their right to success. Teachers have a responsibility to teach and to do everything in their power to help the children under their care to succeed, but in return the pupils have an equal responsibility to turn up, to behave and to do the work set to the best of their ability. Those that do that should succeed, and those that don’t should learn that there are consequences.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they should be abandoned and unsupported. They should be given every opportunity to learn from failure and to grow, but neither should they be taught that if they are lazy or badly behaved they will be handed success, because this is not a useful life lesson, and merely produces adults who believe that the world owes them a living.
What do you think?