This secondary school teacher believes that some students are staying on too long in school.* Although it has been many years since I stepped into the classroom as a teacher I still do agree with this. Some students would be better off leaving school because schools have to cater to the majority and there will always be a minority that either fall through the cracks, can’t use what school has to offer, or have needs that the school is simply unable or unwilling to meet. Where we differ in our opinions is that I believe that these students come from all backgrounds, abilities, genders, and every other variable you can think of. Some kids need to escape the school environment to thrive. Some kids just can’t opt out far enough to thrive. Some will always just have to get by how they can.
I am surprised that a secondary school teacher gives this advice:
No doubt, encouraging children to stay at school is enormously beneficial for the individual and society, but it also leads to some students continuing with school when they probably would have been better off leaving earlier and doing something else.
My question is: What else?
Even when I completed Year 10 in 1989 the competition was fierce for apprenticeships which were thin on the ground. Most of us went onto Yrs 11 and 12 because there weren’t a great number of other options. It became rarer for students to leave school in Yr 10 and go to TAFE. Many of us hung around until after Yr 12 and then went to TAFE. This meant that instead of being school leavers at 16 many of my friends completed Yr 12, did 12 months at TAFE and were able to move to larger centres or cities as adults with qualifications to find jobs which were few and far between in my home town, unless you wanted to serve beer at the pub or work at Woolies. There was, as there is now, a lack of options for kids needing to leave school because it doesn’t suit them. Most apprenticeships went to kids that the tradie already knew either through friendship or family connections.
When I returned to the classroom in 1999 if anything the options for kids needing to leave school in Yr 10 were even slimmer. Even then most of the traditional pathways to work from school were asking for an HSC or equivalent. Why would someone take on an apprentice who could only just apply for a license when they could get a Yr 12 graduate who might already have their license, perhaps even their own car if they had already been working part time? Someone more mature, or even just someone who could be sent to buy the beers when work finished for the day?
I also take exception to the suggestion that it is lower class kids who are the trouble makers. In my experience it was the kids who thought that Mum or Dad could or would get them out of trouble who caused the most. St John’s anyone? This is of course not a blanket rule, troublemakers come from all walks of life. It is any surprise that something like Schoolies week attracts these kids?
I understand why Schoolies scares a lot of people. It involves a lot of teenagers, hormones, alcohol and drugs which is never a good combination in large quantities. However, a large number of schoolies seem to come away unscathed with some lasting memories. Tragically one girl lost her life this year and there has been one reported (quite possibly a number gone unreported) rape. If this was the standard by which we shut events down then we probably wouldn’t have any large public events at all. Some people misbehaving is not a reason to shut down an event, nor it is a reason to smear a social class.
I would have expected a better argument from a teacher. I’m giving this an F.
*Chris could obviously be any gender, I have just gone with the “To Sir with Love” pun for the title.