In what’s rapidly becoming the defining parts of my life, I took another fruit of my loins to yet another sporting event at the weekend (number 1 son, hockey) and spent an interesting 3 hours talking to a different set of parents about the “purpose” of education.
This time, I spoke at length to an accountant (self employed), a hairdresser (in a salon group) and a small, independent farmer (organic livestock) and thought back to my previous conversation when I “discovered” that what people / parents wanted out of education was slightly different than I expected. This time was no different.
OK, cards on the table – I was more prepared for the conversations this time and I actively asked questions. So I suppose I was guilty of influencing the outcome of the discussion – but I tried my best not to bias what I’m reporting here.
Still central to all three was an observation that “raw recruits” did not seem to want to work and that over recent years they had seen the highest turnover of staff that they had ever experienced — “What, you sacked them?”, “No, they quit, got bored and went looking for something else”
Real life can be dull — jobs can be dull
This got me thinking about the learning situations that we create in schools. Have we become too proficient in creating exciting and engaging learning opportunities that our students have become unresilient (is that a word?) to the demands of real life? Have we raised the expectations of learners to expect that life’s challenges can be packaged into 45minutes to 1 hour and that all problems will resolve themselves in the end?
College / University is hard — heck, sometimes (often?) lectures can be boring. Starting at the bottom in a functional job, can test the patience of everyone — and yes, you might be asked to do menial tasks.
Do we equip our learners for this? Are they aware that real life can be dull and jobs (needed to pay the bills) are often tedious and repetitive? Do we demonstrate that sticking at a difficult task, whilst hard, dull and non inspirational can in the end, lead to rewarding experiences?
I wonder if we need to take a look to sport and the hours of practice / pain that our Olympians put in. Not every training session is a breeze, sometimes it hurts, sometimes you hit the wall — but the prize is worth it.
So I am left thinking — are we (teachers, the education professionals and the wider pedagogy industry) guilty of depriving our learners of a valuable experience — sometimes things are hard and boring, but worth it in the end.