Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Hey millennials, it's not your school's job to teach you life skills

I came across a post I wrote a while back, five years almost to the day in fact, about a workshop I had attended at my daughter’s school as she transitioned into high school.

One year to go, and she’s about to transition into the real world. Where did that time go?

The purpose of the workshop was to talk about our hopes and concerns for our daughters as they entered into high school, I wrote then.

“Parents were worried about bullying, time management, study skills, social media, friendship groups ... all valid concerns. I am concerned, but not overly, if I'm honest, about these things too.

“But then there were parents, and there's always a few, who brought up things such as pregnancy, drugs, boys; there was even one woman concerned about what was being done to ensure her daughter would get into university.

“But the main thing that came out of it for me was that it's not the school's job, indeed no school's job, to raise our children. That's our job as parents, sorry.”

I still think that’s the case. That too often we’re placing too much responsibility on schools to do the things we, as parents, should be doing.

And then I read Alana Leabeater’s piece this week, “I got a 99 ATAR [An Australian High School qualification] but I had a lousy education”, and got mighty cross.

I wanted to know what Ms Leabeater’s parents had been up to for the past 10 years. Not only did she bemoan the poor high school education she received, but she also seems to write off the four years she has spent studying science at university.

Here’s an idea: how about showing a little gratitude that your schooling was indeed competent enough for you to get into university in the first place.

Imagine if your biology teacher had spent all that time teaching you how to change a tyre, or your physics teacher skilled you in CPR, two things you wish you had learned at school.

Imagine then that perhaps you wouldn’t have achieved your close-to-perfect ATAR, and you’d be lining up for a job at the supermarket - but not getting it, because even you admit you’re always an employer’s second choice.

Maybe people don’t want to employ you because they don’t like people who lay the blame for their own shortcomings squarely at the feet of other people.

It’s terrifying for me that my own daughter isn’t far behind you in the grand scheme of things.

I wonder if I have prepared her well enough for this next life transition.

It scares me that perhaps I haven’t. I know I still mollycoddle her, and her brother, a few years younger. I know I do that because I do not want to face the fact that soon they will be adults and gone from my home.

As parents we want to keep our children as close as possible, at the same time equipping them to become independent.

I want to be able to ensure that when my children leave home they can do complex maths and be able to start a lawn mower.

I want them to be confident public speakers and know how to bake a perfect sponge cake.

Some of these things are their school’s job, some are mine.

It would be interesting to get those same bunch of year 6 parents back in a room together to see if our concerns, worries and expectations have changed over the years.

I know my daughter is smart enough to keep on top of her studies. She’s choosing a direction for further study that’s come out of left field but interests her, she has a super bunch of friends who all have each other’s backs, she’s funny, is killing it at her part-time job, and has proven a very capable young driver. She’ll be okay.

My concerns for her revolve around getting through the next year with her sense of humour intact, realising that an ATAR is not the be all and end all of life, that she’s brave enough to head out on her own and make her own choices, good and bad.

Back on that initial post five years ago, a teacher friend commented that as parents our job was to love and support our children “and help them make decisions you will be proud of”.

“You can't hold their hand 24/7, just give them the skills to make the 'right' decisions."

Ms Leabeater, maybe your ire should have been directed at your parents, not the education sysytem.


Louisiana School Famous For Rags-To-Riches Ivy League Acceptances Exposed As Fraud

T.M. Landry College Preparatory School in Lousiana made headlines with a series of viral videos showing their students reacting to news that they’d been accepted to Ivy League Universities.

But a new report from The New York Times has exposed the dark underbelly of the school that once boasted “a 100-percent college acceptance rate.”

According to the report, transcripts were doctored and extracurricular activities were invented. Students were encouraged to lie about their family situations in order to make their successes appear even more dramatic. And students and teachers alike described a “culture of abuse” that was widespread.

T.M. Landry rocketed to the top of the news cycle in 2017 when a number of their college acceptance videos went viral.

The colleges “want to be able to get behind the black kids going off and succeeding, and going to all of these schools,” said Raymond Smith Jr., who graduated from T.M. Landry in 2017 and enrolled at NYU. He said that Mr. Landry forced him to exaggerate his father’s absence from his life on his NYU application.

“It’s a good look,” these colleges “getting these bright, high-flying, came-from-nothing-turned-into-something students,” Mr. Smith said.

Most students and teachers admitted in a series of interviews with The NYT that parts of transcripts had been exaggerated or even invented in order to make the students more appealing to prestigious universities. But even more disturbing were the allegations of abuse — both emotional and physical.

Students described being “forced to kneel on grains of rice, rocks and hot pavement,” and said that they were often yelled at by Landry himself.

Landry, who described himself as a “drill sergeant,” admitted that he yelled “a lot” and openly encouraged competition among students because “that is how the real world works.” He denied having students kneel in harsh conditions or for longer than five minutes.

One student, Tyler Sassau, refuted that point, saying Landry had forced him to kneel on a bathroom floor for two hours. “I wasn’t going to get up without asking him, because if I did, I could’ve got something worse. I could barely stand when I got up,” he said.

The students who went on to the Ivy Leagues from Landry since 2013 — when the school’s first class graduated — have had mixed success.


Australia: 'Walk to school, make a sandwich and switch off your devices': Baby boomer slams 'selfish, virtue-signalling' school kids who skipped class to protest against climate change

A baby boomer has unleashed on 'selfish, virtue-signalling' school kids for skipping class to protest against climate change.

The man's rant, which went viral after being posted online, came after thousands of students walked out of class on Friday to demand federal government action on climate change in a series of coordinated rallies across Australia.

Shared to Facebook, the man's scathing attack began by addressing school kids who went on strike for climate change.

'You are the first generation who have required air-conditioning in every classroom. You want TV in every room and your classes are all computerized,' he wrote.

'More than ever, you don't walk or ride bikes to school but arrive in caravans of private cars that choke suburban roads and worsen rush hour traffic.' 

The man then continued by taking a swipe at young people's consumer culture, arguing the youth of today opts to replace 'expensive luxury items to stay trendy'.

'How about this... tell your teachers to switch off the air-con.'

'Walk or ride to school. Switch off your devices and read a book. Make a sandwich instead of buying manufactured goods.'

The post takes a turn, targeting the character traits of young Australians.

'No, none of this will happen because you are uneducated, selfish, virtue signaling little turds inspired by the adults around you who crave a feeling of having a ''noble cause'' while they indulge themselves in Western luxury and unprecedented quality of life.'

The man's post argued children were being used as 'political pawns' in a continuous game of seeking votes.

'This is weapons-grade autism at it's malignant best,' he finished.

The viral post was met with support and criticism by a number of social media users eager to share their opinion on the matter.

One viewer said the letter was 'great', claiming the children were 'brainwashed and spoilt'.

Another said 'it's a different world today' claiming they were glad they grew up without devices and material objects. 'Everything was homemade and all paper bags and cardboard boxes were repurposed,' they wrote.

Other social media users commended the children for taking action on an issue they were passionate about. 'Today's society has been created at a great cost and well done kids for taking your action,' wrote one viewer. 'I am proud of them standing up for what they believe in,' commented another.

Many drew attention to the fact climate change was not created by the school kids but the generations before them. 'Why take it out on the kids who have to inherit this s***y planet which I might add we f****d up as adults'.

The 'Strike 4 Climate Action' rallies involved children in capital cities as well as 20 regional centres across Australia.

An estimated 1000 protesters packed Sydney's Martin Place in the CBD on Friday afternoon, chanting 'climate action now,' with similar numbers in Melbourne.

The series of rallies were inspired by Greta Thunberg, a teenager who went on strike ahead of Sweden's national election. She demanded the country's leader address climate change back in September.

Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan slammed the thousands of students who skipped school to protest climate change action in an extraordinary rant. Mr Canavan said students who truanted from the classroom 'may as well learn to join the dole queue.'

'These are the type of things that excite young children and we should be great at as a nation,' he told 2GB radio on Friday.

'Taking off school and protesting? You don't learn anything from that.

'The best thing you'll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue. Because that's what your future life will look like, up in a line asking for a handout, not actually taking charge for your life and getting a real job.'


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