School should be out for some

What on earth is this unhealthy obsession we’ve developed over forcing our children to stay at school until Year 12?

Are there really any benefits for the kids who view their time after Year 10 as an unbearable sentence?

The Federal Government has become involved, setting aside more than $600 million to offer struggling Victorian parents “incentives” to keep their children on after Year 10.

Here’s a tip. If the government wants to keep kids at school, change the education system. Make it more relevant to teenagers uninterested in tertiary education and bored senseless by algebra and Shakespeare. Introduce more lifeskill subjects, such as driving education, touch typing or learning how to answer a telephone properly. What about teaching skills for everyday problem solving, customer service or how to communicate face-to-face?

And introduce these subjects into the HSC syllabus, so they count. So the students who study them have an incentive to work to pass them. Just as marks are needed to get into university, have marks which prove the teenager has the skills to benefit an employer.
Year 9 is recognised as the year when students start to go off the boil, and some schools are catering to this by introducing offsite residential campuses. The students live away from home and learn about responsibility, community living and domestic skills. But it’s only for a term and it doesn’t help the students hellbent on leaving after Year 10. When did it become so vital for our children to spend 13 years at school anyway?

Teenagers who don’t want to be in school can be a distraction to the rest and often for their sake, and that of their peers, they’re better out than in. They may not be academic, they may be bullied, they may quite simply just be round blocks being forced into square holes. They just don’t fit. And no matter how much their parents, the school and the government try to squeeze them into the square, they still just don’t fit. So why not find them another environment in which they could fit perfectly?

I am not suggesting for a moment that a 16- year-old be allowed to leave school without some sort of constructive plan. In fact, they should be equipped with plans A,B and C, to ensure their decision is effective. And don’t involve Centrelink and benefits, that tends to sap any incentive for taking responsibility.

But just imagine, just for a moment, how it must feel to spend nearly eight hours a day in a place you really hated. And imagine how you’d feel when you had to continue that day at night with homework and assignments, only to go to bed knowing you had to do it all again the next day.

While announcing her “incentive” to keep kids at school Ms Gillard’s message was loud and clear.
“There’s only one place for kids to be and that’s in school. Stay in school. It will open doors and give you a big leg up in life,” she said.

Ms Gillard, what about the children who just don’t excel at school, who don’t want to run with the pack, who are just plain miserable? How would you feel going to a job all day feeling inadequate, bullied or ineffective?

Ooops, hang on … probably asking the wrong person here. I’d hazard a guess she knows exactly how they feel.

What subjects would you introduce to in schools?


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