It's a tough world out there!

Lately, I came across a chain letter purporting to report a speech given by Bill Gates at a high school. It lists the things that school does NOT teach (we are apparently meant to shout the "NOT") and how "politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality". At the same time, a blogger on The Age website also posted on the things we didn't learn at school.

Schools must tell kids to expect a harsh boss. "Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss." "... very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time." I must say that all my employers, both in industry and in teaching, have been very accommodating. I would have been badly prepared by my school if they had planted suspicion of employers in my mind.

Schools must teach kids everything they will ever need in the world of work. "... how to survive a poorly run meeting ... how to prepare a powerpoint presentation ... how to write a 5 line email." I thought schools have been administring death by powerpoint for quite a while. I surely prepare my students for all those poorly run meetings they will have to endure: I get them in groups of 12 and give one of student a boring script to read. Yes, sir, I teach for the real world.

In all of these posts there are two themes in common: that school is not the real world and that school should be a reproduction of that world. Together with these themes, come two assumptions I used to make in my pre-education life: if people have not learnt something, it is because they were not taught it, and we know what people will need in the world of work, we just need the schools to get on with teaching it.

If the world is a place where everyone has to compete for the few places on the winning podium and if employers are harsh and uninterested in your wellbeing, then it is even more important for schools to be different. Employers will surely be grateful for people who have "found themselves" before they begin work. This way, they don't need to engage in such useless activities on the boss' time. I am sure no one at my school knew I would end up in an English-speaking country when they decided to teach me this otherwise irrelevant skill.

I'll get off my soap box and go play with my daughter. She'll teach me what is real and what is academic.

Technorati tags: Teaching School


Anonymous said…
I came across that chain letter too (on MySpace, without Gates' name attached to it at all). Anyway, I completely agree with what you said: I think schools do need to be different from the real world. They need to be nurturing environments where young people can find themselves, rather than the harsh, cutthroat places that many corporate offices have become.

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