I was stimulated to write about it today for a couple of reasons. This morning I visited my daughter who's just completed her second year at University, doing a media production degree, she wanted help with writing an essay ( the title question of which I can't even recall, it was so memorable) It struck me as we were wading through texts, theories and quotes how pointless it really seemed. I'll add at this point, I'm not being negative, not anti- education or anti- university degrees... just that in the real world, as a vibrant young human being, what was discussing the boundaries of horror ( that's the abridged version) really bringing Sarah my daughter?
I did find myself asking the "So what?" question.... a lot this morning.
Ok, I do get that it shows that she can take in lots of information, that she can format her thesis, can articulate herself on paper... all great skills..... but what is it really bringing her?
You could say a sense of accomplishment, of satisfaction, or even increased knowledge. But how is it truly feeding her soul?
It has certainly caused her a great amount of stress as she tries to discuss her ideas and struggles with her tutors. Their replies have been helpful I'm sure in their own eyes, but to me have simply been the use of intellectualized ,academic gobble de gook, and how you can get as many incomprehensible words into a sentence.
It's almost as though they themselves have been institutionalised. In truth it just makes me feel sad.....sad that our youngsters are pressurised to take the Uni route to "fit in". It's become what they're now expected to do.They truly are fed the "If you want a good job , or any job for that matter you have to have a degree" This is simply not true.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that there are lots of Uni Students who are having a great time , learning, growing and developing skills beyond just those of their chosen course.
So, pondering this thought, I was driving back home listening to the local BBC radio station, discussing the local "A" levels results, that have been published today. The radio presenter was interviewing a head teacher from a local school who's results had been the best in ten years. I'm delighted for the school, the staff and the students, what a great result. ( I do have to say though, the measurement in itself is another way of making everyone fit in to a certain criteria of what good looks like)
The discussion then went onto the topic of university applications versus apprenticeships and other options. Although it was said that more students were taking more time to consider their options and not rushing into things, the university applications still seemed to be taking the lions share of next steps..... what really concerned me was the head teacher said that the students where perusing university as there was a desire to fulfill their potential... he said this several times.
Hmmm, is that what we're drilling into our teenagers? You can only fulfill your potential by taking the University route?
So are we saying that by "Fitting in" following the crowd, going to University getting a degree (any degree it would seem) is the way to fulfill your potential?
And what is an individual's potential anyway? is that purely about academic ability?
Please don't misunderstand me, for some people its absolutely the thing to do, it is fulfilling their ability to really stand out from the crowd, but when it becomes what's considered the "Norm" and "The way", as in this is the way we do things around here, then it just becomes an exercise of trying to make people "Fit in".
The Sunday mail magazine recently ran an article on the subject of was going to university a waste of time, along the lines of was it worth it. Interestingly most of those interviewed felt it really hadn't made a difference to their work prospects.Many of which, if they had their time around again they wouldn't have gone.
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is....And believe me when I say I am making a positive point here....... Lets encourage the next generation to stand out, to be themselves - their authentic self.
If that means they choose to go to University to allow their true magnificence to shine, then great! If its to take off to a far flung part of the World to save endangered animals, then that's great too ( I know someone's going to tell me you need a degree to do that) If it's to be entrepreneurial and start something for themselves ( think Lord Sugar or Sir Richard Branson) , or even if it's to... dare I say it , start a job...... lets support them to stand out, blaze their own trail...... not blend in.
Which reminds me of a t-shirt I saw at the Feel good show at the weekend, printed with a great quote from my wise friend Taz Thornton...which said something like. " Be yourself, Be authentic, don't wash out the colours of the rainbow just because some prefer beige"
make every moment count, colour outside the lines and stand out in the crowd.