I feel I must have a mini-rant here. I know it’s a controversial topic, but hey, I’ll carry on and you can always skip on down if your blood starts to boil…
Students who were to sit GCSEs and A Level examinations this year in the UK have had 4 months of disruption to their education. They have been given work to do at home (my granddaughter has received merit awards for the amount of work she has completed) and will receive calculated grades based on their mock exam results and past assessments. Vulnerable children have not had their education disrupted at all, as they were still allowed to go to school, along with children of key workers. Students will receive results in August that will be accepted by universities and colleges.
Secretary General Antonio Guterres talked about a ‘lost generation of youth‘ back in April due to the impact of Covid-19 on education and future employment. Apparently one third of employees aged 16 -24 have had to be furloughed on reduced pay. However, one does tend to wonder whether a percentage of these ‘lost youths’ have been enjoying themselves sitting on UK beaches or in parks during lock-down?
Compare this to my father’s generation. He was born in 1927 in East London and by the time he was 12 he had to leave school altogether due to the impact of WWII. He never had the chance to go to school again. My mother, 4 years older than my dad, went to work as normal throughout WWII, and even throughout the Blitz. There was no talk of being furloughed on 80% of pay. If you didn’t work, then you didn’t eat. One evening she told me she sat in the front room of her flat and suddenly there was a terrible noise and all the windows imploded. She ran out onto the balcony and there were gaps in the street where houses had stood only minutes previously.
There was no counselling to get over the shock of the implosion or of being bombed for 5 years; it was a case of suck it up and get on with it, and get on with the food rationing as well. Can you imagine the majority of people these days having to live on the meagre rations of wartime?
My parents were intelligent people who worked all their lives and never had a chance to sit exams and go to university, and the scars of war affected them for life. As an older man Dad spent hours listening to instructional records and trying to teach himself (he learned a couple of languages for example). I think their generation and also the youth of WWI were the real ‘lost’ generations. Have the youth of today really ‘lost’ out by not going to school for 4 months? What do you think?
As an aside, both my sons did not gain even one A Level at school. Instead they left school with a great deal of relief and began 4-year apprenticeships which gave them day release to college where they passed exams relevant to their future careers. One is now the general manager of a precision engineering company, and the other is a regional account manager of a national company. They grew up on leaving school and suddenly gained motivation and a desire to succeed. You can drive the student to school, but you can’t make him learn. The desire to learn has to come from within. If today’s youth want to learn, then they will. If they don’t, then they’ll go and sit on the beach.