Telling lies

We lie to our young people. Big bad lies.

We tell them that education is everything and they have to work hard and get lots of credits. We tell them that employers now want Level Two to underline how serious this need to do school work diligently and successfully is.

What we don't tell them is that employers are not, on the whole, now asking for Level Two (Year 12, sixth form) where once Level One (Year 11, old school cert age group) was enough because the jobs have become more intellectually demanding.

They raise the bar as some kind of filter as there are nowhere near enough jobs.

We skirt this issue and suggest to young people that if they study hard enough, then good jobs will be theirs. We reprimand and punish and despair of those who refuse to play this diligence game.

We are telling lies. The harder everyone works for pieces of paper bearing qualifications, the higher the qualifications bar will go.

Education offers a lot of wonderful things. But to suggest that if everyone does their bookwork carefully enough we will have full employment, is a terrible coasting, skating, hiding of an important and nasty truth: our economy (nationally and globally) is structured for significant unemployment, which keeps wages low. The New Zealand unemployed are then blamed for their audacity in applying for state funds to survive. It is structured this way to protect and enhance the lifestyles of the very rich.

I am not suggesting that young people should not strive to achieve their potential academically. I'm pretty keen on the learning thing. But we tell our young people lies about the supposed magic of schooling and we should not be surprised when some of them tell us to f*** off, school sucks. If we listened to them, really listened, and they listened to the oldie socialists and looked through their bookshelves and had a read, then revolution may come sooner not later.

It ain't all about cellphones and sex. Teenagers don't all frame their critical thinking within the structures of power, but there is an interesting amount of critical thinking going on and if we stopped telling lies, then we would have to face those people and actually listen to them.

Scary. A post-neoliberal world. Paulo Friere, one of my favourite thinkers, talks about education as a banking system. And what has happened to our global baking system of late?

Comments

Gillybean said…
Quite Heavy for a friday night Sandra :)
My 6th former doesn't really give a toss about NCEA qualifations. His peer group have always been the quite smart ones but I'd say only 20% of them are really striving towards the qualifications that their parents/teachers/society insist they need. Good on them and their parents! But I think for young adults, the ability to be socially well balanced is the secret to scoring the jobs/courses/careers they are after. Passion, enthusiam, manners and values still can take one as far if not further than a good academic education. Those things I think can be instilled in any child. Happiness, not pressure should be at the top of the list, not aquiring wealth or status.
At least that's my theory, I hope I'm right.
Gillybean said…
Quite Heavy for a friday night Sandra :)
My 6th former doesn't really give a toss about NCEA qualifations. His peer group have always been the quite smart ones but I'd say only 20% of them are really striving towards the qualifications that their parents/teachers/society insist they need. Good on them and their parents! But I think for young adults, the ability to be socially well balanced is the secret to scoring the jobs/courses/careers they are after. Passion, enthusiam, manners and values still can take one as far if not further than a good academic education. Those things I think can be instilled in any child. Happiness, not pressure should be at the top of the list, not aquiring wealth or status.
At least that's my theory, I hope I'm right.
Gillybean said…
Whoops sorry I clicked twice.
Johanna said…
Gillybean - I couldn't agree more
Sorry 'bout the heavy Friday thing Gilly :)). "But I think for young adults, the ability to be socially well balanced is the secret to scoring the jobs/courses/careers they are after. Passion, enthusiam, manners and values still can take one as far if not further than a good academic education. Those things I think can be instilled in any child." I agree with this strongly Gilly (and Johanna). And the notion that job fulfilment is not necessarily found through a strictly academic approach is one I also agree with.

What I really wanted to say in my post was that we live in a world deliberately structured to have significant unemployment. A world in which many trades and skills are never developed within our population because so many things are produced overseas by cheap sweatshop labour and then sold here with the profit going overwhelmingly to the shareholders who do not exert themselves to create anything, only bandy around their capital.

I love etsy and other home grown initiatives but there could be so much more. Remember the Honda plant at Tahunanui, Nelson? The jobs are just not there for the women and (mostly) men who worked there in the 1960s and 1970s. Yet we still have a big number of people who struggle with either the academic side of school learning or the sitting still and inside part of it. There are so few places for them to go and I don't think it has to be like that.

I believe that the opportunity to work is a basic human right and Paula Bennett's thrashing of those on the dole queue or the dpb utterly fails to acknowledge that she supports a system which denies work to many many people.

The pursuit of happiness - I think that happiness is best experienced as the byproduct of satisfaction with achievements (growing cabbages, raising children, reducing domestic violence, healing the sick, growing a business etc.). I do suspect that the direct pursuit of happiness as a state is an empty and always frustrating activity. But that's a whole nother topic.
Gillybean said…
Well said. Such deep thoughts on social issues after Zumba and then a few wines (friday night routine) make my mind boggle and my keyboard waffle. Love reading your thoughts and insights any day of the week. :)
Anonymous said…
Hi Sandra

Many would say it's the inherent drive for a full employment economy that's the problem, with unemployment rates being high or low creating the conditions of slave labour by necessity of this drive with a counter employment pattern.

The beneficial thing to remember is that where ever you are coming from, it is a working hypothesis. The more info you are open to for issues, the more knowledge you will find


Nik
skatey katie said…
i have been having a(nother) meltdown about 'cultural capital' this week and lack of success for kiddos who aren't so hot on the linguistic intelligence (so i have tried engaging them with multiple intelligences and there was SUCH A BUZZ in the classroom. totally cool).

rach bears (of the 8 baby bears) is staying for the weekend and she pointed out that it's YOU on the email she sent out with ken robinson (which i've now just watched and aha'd along to - what a brilliant communicator huh) and so i shall revisit the email and perhaps add two cents. if i can find where i put them.
love love X

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