Monday, August 27, 2007

Same Train, Different Track

An op-ed in today's EducationGuardian suggests that "Employers' attitudes towards today's teenagers mean that the mature, conscientious and smart are held back." I had hoped this would be a story supporting Robert Epstein's thesis that we are babying our teens too much.

Sixteen-year-old author Charlotte Lytton writes: "It seems that nothing is ever good enough in today's society; we're a nation obsessed by perfection and not even the best seems acceptable anymore. GCSEs are an example of this fixation. Not only are there news reports seemingly daily about how easy they are, but it seems they count for nothing when 16-year-olds decide to venture out into the working world." (links are mine)

But apparently Charlotte thinks we're not babying our teens enough. Colin Willman of the Federation of Small Business (FSB) says in the article on behalf of employers that "The skills that businesses need from school leavers are literacy, numeracy, punctuality, communication skills and an ability to be well-presented."

Charlotte fires back, "But when are we supposed to learn all of these additional skills for the world of work? From reading the papers, it seems pupils are working their socks off at school to be met with disgruntled employers who sack them because they turn up for work five minutes late or their shirt isn't tucked in. After a six-hour school day that can sometimes include double history and mathematics, when do they expect kids to learn the protocol of the work place?"

As much as I sympathize with her schedule, if she's taking double history and mathematics, she should already have the literacy and numeracy skills necessary to babysit or flip burgers. Showing up to work on time with your shirt tucked in should be common sense, something you learn at home, not an additional class. While I agree that many, if not most, teens are much more capable than we let them be, I don't agree that we should lower our expectations of teenaged workers.

1 comment:

Zany Mom said...

Lots of kids are used to sliding by in school, and figure it will carry over into the workplace. I don't think we should lower our expectations, either. Many 40 yr olds still have punctuality issues. Getting fired once or twice would be a good wake up call.

Maybe if kids weren't so isolated from the real world by school and all of its ridiculous demands, then kids would actually get to experience the real world first hand.

But that's just me.