Today we are featuring and article from one of our contributors, Marie, a cover supervisor from Rotherham, who asks the question; “how well does the National Curriculum prepare children for life in the real world?”
Kids these days are under the impression that education and GCSEs in particular have no value in the world that we live. I was covering for a Year 10 GCSE English class yesterday, who should have been completing a controlled assessment, towards their final marks. Instead of knuckling down and doing what they were supposed to, the whole class engaged in a debate about the recent ‘terror attacks’ in London. While I am not opposed to an informed debate, especially about current affairs and politics, these kids were obviously spouting nothing more than the regurgitated opinions of their parents. Comments such as ‘kick them all out’ and other more racist observations were made between a minority of the boys in the group. I took the time to explain to them that any human being has the potential to incite terror and inflict pain; it’s just the majority of us realise that this is not the way to behave. Once the record had been set straight about Islam and the ‘state’ of the country, we returned to the work that should have been their main focus. I was then met with complaints that they didn’t need English to get a job. One boy piping up that his dad didn’t have any qualifications and never struggled to get a job down the pit.
They are so disillusioned by their own parents’ pasts that they think they can float through life and get everything done for them or given to them for free. The debate floor was yet again opened up by the know-it-all of the class, who informed me that her friend had a job at KFC and she hadn’t left school. I took the time to explain that in the current economy where more than 2.2 million people who are fit and able to work, are unemployed, then a company has essentially the pick of the crop. Why would anyone employ someone who has no qualifications above those who have GCSEs, A-Levels and possibly even a degree? Schools should not only be responsible for teaching the curriculum, but take the role of teaching these kids about life. The message at home is obviously not being conveyed and in some of the areas I work, a vast majority of the families are in receipt of benefits; these kids have nothing to aspire to and no incentive to work hard.
I spent the first fifty minutes of a ninety minute lesson cajoling twenty-three teenagers into doing their work, and then had to circle the room like a vulture, peering over shoulders and breaking up private conversations about ‘guess who’s in prison’ or ‘so-and-so’s mum’ has married some guy with loads of money so doesn’t need to work, to ensure they were doing what was expected of them.
I fear these kids are going to have such a rude awakening when they finally place a foot out of the sheltered world in which they live and not know how to deal with real life. One of the things that school prepares us for, are the demands of an adult job; the work set in class is not only meant to educate in that particular subject, but prepares each person for what is going to be expected in an office, a hair salon, or mechanics shop: deadlines, quality of work, accuracy are all requirements of any reputable employer. These teenagers are the future of our country; what future are they going to give? Where are the potential Doctors, Lawyers, Politicians, and Inventors that are going to propel our civilisation into the coming centuries? This cycle is never ending, starting with their parents, who pass it onto their children, who will no doubt teach their own offspring the same ‘values’. While essentially the responsibility lies with the parents to educate at home, I believe there should be a failsafe built into the national curriculum by the Government. An hour a week dedicated to life-lessons; how to pay bills, open a bank account, budget, get a job, all the values that my parents taught my sister and I, and the ones I have passed onto my own children. Without this, the end of our civilisation is nearer than some of us anticipate.