Consider the influence political agendas might have on the way you educate. Let’s consider clearing the slate and putting together a method that is free from politics and invested in the future.
I met with a friend this week and we had a heated debate about the influence politicians have on education. Although he and I are sat on different sides of the political debate, one of the themes that we agreed on is that political beliefs should not be taken into account when planning an education strategy.
The words “strategy” and “education” have been spoken a lot over the past few weeks, in the LibDem conference, then in the Labour conference. I have no doubt it will be taking a prime seat in the Conservative conference as well.
This included more conversations about how schools should be measured, where students should be aiming to continue, putting together a strategy to handle the growing NEETs problem, changing to GCSEs and more and more.
My friend and I agreed on another issue: the gearing students towards university and higher education, may have had an adverse effect on the sense of honour working in a trade or mastering a craft. We could both see where this has come from in recent years: economically, industry and manufacturing has been on the decline in the UK, as we have become a service-providing nation, rather than a production-driven one. So, in order to better prepare students for the jobs they are likely to have in their adult life, we need more people who can are articulate, can communicate well and can operate technology rather than people who run production lines and fix them.
This categorisation academic vs. profession/trade dates farther back than current political debate. Recent psychological and cognitive studies are strongly suggesting that certain traits (ones that are more pertinently used in trades and crafts) require different types of intelligence (i.e. not the traditional “smart”) that cannot be measured by traditional tests.
Where does that leave education and careers?
Career education, career fluency and career vocabulary are only partly to do with getting a student into a job. They are broader concepts that prepare students to the different choices they have available to them.
Exploring the complexity of the world of work and how the decisions students make today may influence their adult life and learning to explore it in a safe environment is one way of making sure that when the time comes (be it at 16, 18, 21 or 24) they will be able to make decisions based on the world that’s around them.
That may be choosing to go to university to read neurobiology. That may be going to learn to become a heating engineer. Neither is more or less respectable than the other. We need scientists to research the brain just as much as we need heating engineers to help us keep our houses warm while consuming less energy.
Regardless of where you stand on the political map, introducing the concepts of carer fluency and career vocabulary through career education is another step towards having an agile and diverse economy.
Do you think it is worth the debate?