Education not training

The latest thing that provoked a rant – a complaint that school leavers “lack workplace skills”.

Well guess what, Mr/Ms Employer – we are here to educate, not to train. We are trying to broaden their minds, introduce them to the rich worlds of sciences, arts and humanities, help them learn to think, to aspire to change the world, and to play their part in our society.  We are not there to teach “business skills” or to produce little workers all ready to be fastened to their office chair.

Now in some areas I think we perhaps could do more to help children develop attributes and skills they’ll use in the big wide world. Here are a few:-

  • Thinking for themselves, not being passive consumers focused solely on regurgitation to order in examinations
  • Making their own decisions, not always looking for someone to tell them “the best thing to do”
  • Questioning everything
  • Being brave and taking risks
  • Taking responsibility for themselves

I am not convinced the average employer moaning about their school-leaver intake will necessarily welcome all of these. But as a society, we certainly should.

We really need a rethink about what we are achieving with education. It really isn’t just about passing exams (particularly as increasingly this is seen as a measure of the teacher’s success rather than the pupil’s).  It certainly isn’t about producing workplace-ready young people who will not inconvenience the employer by requiring training. An awful lot of what it’s about is pretty intangible, really, but that doesn’t make it any less important.


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