"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

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Monday, 10 January 2011

NEETS and technical colleges

At last. I have been saying for years that our schooling in the UK is not for everyone; that by the age of 14 kids should be allowed to leave the conventional school, geared as it is towards exams and university entrance, if they are not suited to academic learning. It seems to me that the less academically gifted children often feel they are failures at school, and this leads to low self-esteem, and boredom. And that of course can result in all sorts of behavioural and social problems. Surely it would be better for such kids to learn a trade instead – perhaps be apprenticed to tradesmen, learn a practical skill, even start earning a living during training, whilst their more academic peers stay on at school to gain that cherished place at university.
Now at last something is happening, as reported in The Times of 7th January.
Lord Baker of Dorking used to be the Education Secretary. Now he has founded the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, which is behind the proposal to open up to 70 technical schools, focusing on engineering and vocational skills. Children will be able to join these at 14. What a brilliant idea!
It is also planned to have a network of smaller “studio schools” which would have links with employers and teach functional and practical skills.
When I was at school, there were Technical Colleges, which served the same purpose, but those were closed down or converted to Universities. Lord Baker blamed the demise of these Technical Colleges on “snobbery.”
It is absolutely imperative that our youngsters are made to feel of equal value whether they learn a trade or a profession, go to “Tech.” or to “Uni.”
On the same day that this plan was announced we are told on the news that 1.5 million young people in the United Kingdom – yes 1,500,000 young people – are not in employment, education, or training. We call them NEETS! See the link for the Mail Online comments on this, and it makes very worrying reading. Is it any wonder that we have such serious problems with anti-social behaviour, gang warfare, graffiti, yobbish behaviour, etc etc? Surely there can be nothing more dangerous to an ordered society than youth, particularly male youth, testosterone charged, who are bored, disaffected, angry, marginalised and unable to feel they have a value, a role to play, in that society?
So come on. Let’s get cracking on addressing this problem – and for my money I think technical, practical education for these non-academic youth from the age of 14 has to be the key.
And whilst all this has been about the youth of Europe, is there anything similar in the United States I wonder?

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