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My Works in Progress

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Closed Door of Opportunity

There's little doubt that education is going to be a big issue in the forthcoming General Election, and I don't doubt that everyone's aspirations for our country's children's and grandchildren's future are in complete accord. As for teachers' workloads, I have seen with my own eyes the heart-wrenching struggles of a dedicated teacher who is also a parent, and witnessed the stress teachers are under to perform when the performance is based on the unpredictability of childrens' progress.

Any parent of grown-up children will tell you: they are all different and reach the recognised milestones at different times in their lives. One child will walk unaided at 10 months; another not until 18 months. One child will chatter away at 15 months and another will not utter a single word until they are nearly two. This developmental unpredictability continues well into the teens and even beyond. What about the pensioners who go back to college and study for degrees? And the 50 year old who finally decides she is going into teaching?

My heart sank when I read in the news yesterday that children may be assessed at fourteen and forced to make choices as to whether they want to go down the 'technical' route or the 'academic' route. I think its a brilliant idea to prepare young people for a career other than one which is the product of a university education and the inevitable burden of a huge debt to pay for it, but it shouldn't be at the expense of those young people who find, in their late teens, they have made a mistake.

My own door of opportunity was closed and locked when I was eleven. Fortunately, I was handed the key to open it when I was accepted into a 'technical college' at 15, where I got those all-important 'O'levels and some other qualifications which helped me get a foothold in an (eventually) well-paid and rewarding career. But I was lucky - lots of my classmates at the secondary modern school I attended weren't so fortunate and, despite being perfectly capable of much higher levels of achievement, were railroaded into factory and shop jobs where their doors of opportunity were not only locked, but bricked over.

I would urge anyone who eventually holds the key to children's future not to create another generation of 'failures'. As a grandparent I want the very best for my grandchildren's future - whether it be 'technical' or 'academic', but above all I want them to be happy in whichever route they eventually choose for themselves.

I just hope the politicians listen to all the parents and grandparents, who really do understand the unpredictability of a child's educational progress.

Writing Progress

I'm still waiting for a response from JM about 'Sunlight'. I have just finished a radical rewrite of the second book in the trilogy (Melody of Raindrops) and now I'm going to have some fun with 'Horns of Angels' and just write, write, write and worry about plots, structures and the rules of writing another day. I'll go back to 'Melody' in a few weeks and give it an edit, but for now I'm going to enjoy myself and write whatever I like!

10 comments:

Debs said...

Hear, hear to everything you've said about education. I do hope the government take note of what parents/children want/need when it comes to preparing for their futures.

I'm writing a first draft at the moment and loving it. I do have a vague synopsis and pretty much know where I'm going, but am writing what I want and loving every second of it.

Hope you're having a lovely Easter. x

Caledonia Lass said...

I agree! Kids all learn at different levels of maturity and to force a 14 year old to decide is just, pardon me, stupid!
At 14 I wasn't hardly concerned with my future, but some of my friends were. I knew I had a long life of work ahead of me at that age, but it wasn't until later I wanted to change it so I would have a career I loved. May not have worked out how I wanted, but to have the choice was still important to me.

HelenMHunt said...

Wise words my dear. And good luck with the writing/rewriting.

Denise said...

Absolutely on the education front, I get quite scared when I think about how it's organised and imagine what it could be.

Yay, writing fun! About time you had a good time with it again.

Captain Black said...

Education is not just the future for children, it's the future of humanity. If only politicians would get that.

Fun writing is the fun part, isn't it?

Annieye said...

I've had a lovely week, Debs, thank you. I hope you have, too. It worries me about my grandchildren's education much more than I used to worry about my own children. I think it is because I used to feel more in control. If I felt they weren't making enough progress at school, I just used to beef things up a bit at home. It's stupid, really, because my daughter is a teacher and realistically I know she will make sure her children come up to the mark.

Caledonia Lass - Thanks for popping by my blog. I agree, most 14 year olds don't know what they want to do.

Helen - I haven't done as much writing this week as I wanted to, but I've enjoyed it.

Denise - Hear, hear. And you too!

Captain - Yep, I agree. Since I have been trying to get published I've had to make a conscious effort not to let it take away the reason I write - for fun.

motherx said...

Very wise Annieye:)
I think you deserve some fun writing after how hard you have been slogging away! I really hope that you have some good news soon!
I have a short story ready for the off this week...trying not to get excited anymore so will not feel let down...as stephen kings mother said "Expect the worse and hope for the best!" a great motto for me:)

Karen said...

Very wise words Annie, and good luck with the writing.

Hope you hear something from your agent soon - the waiting is hard. So near, yet so far ...

Ladyhihi said...

I think you deserve some fun writing after how hard you have been slogging away! I really hope that you have some good news soon!

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