Mekong1000's Blog

81. Youth and Education, 7th October, 2010

Posted on: October 7, 2010


Youth and Education

The need for a satisfactory education is more important than ever before. Nowadays, without a qualification from a reputable school or university, the odds of landing that plum job advertised in the paper are considerably shortened. Moreover, one’s present level of education could fall we short of future career requirements.
It is not secret that competition the driving force behind the need to obtain increasingly higher qualifications. In the majority of cases, the urge to upgrade is no longer the result of an insatiable this for knowledge. The workplace to compete with ever more qualified job applicants and in many occupations one must now battle with colleagues in the reshuffle for the position one already holds.
Striving to become better educated is hardly a new concept. Wealthy parents have always been willing to spend the vast amounts of extra money necessary to send their children to schools with a perceived educational edge. Working adults have long attended night schools and refresher courses. Competition for working for a living began. Is the present situation so very different to that of the past?
The difference now is that the push is universal and from without as well as within. A student at a comprehensive school receiving low grades is no longer as easily accepted by his or her peers as was one the case. Similarly, in the workplace, unless employees are engaged in part-time study, they may be frowned upon by their employers and peers and have difficulty even standing still. In fact, in these cases, the expectation is for careers to go backwards and earning capacity to taken an appreciable nosedive.
At first glance, the situation would seem to be laudable; a positive response to the exhortations of politicians for us all to raise our intellectual standards and help improve the level of intelligence within the community. Yet there are serious ramifications according to at least one educational psychologist Dr. Brendan Gatsby has caused some controversy in academic circles by suggesting that a bias towards what he term ‘paper excellence’ might cause more problems that it is supposed to solve. Gatsby raises a number of issues that affect the individual as well as society in general.
Firstly, he believes the extra workload involved is resulting in abnormal high stress levels in both students at comprehensive school and adults studying after working hours. Secondly, skills which might be more relevant to the undertaking of a sought-after job are being overload by employers not interviewing candidates without qualifications on paper. These two areas of concern for the individual are causing physical as well as emotional stress.
Gatsby also argues that there are attitudinal changes within society to the exalted role education now plays in determining how the spoil of working life are distributed. Individuals of all ages are being driven by social pressures to achieve academic success solely for monetary considerations instead or for the joy of enlightenment. There is danger that some universities are becoming degree factories with an attendant drop in standards. Furthermore, our above creativity; the very thing tutors ought to be encouraging us to avoid. But the most undesirable effect of this academic paper chase, Gatsby says, is the disadvantage that ‘user pays’ higher education confers on the poor, who invariably lose out to the more financially favored.
Naturally, although there is agreement that learning can cause stress, Gatsby’s comments regarding university standards have been roundly criticized as alarmist by most educationist who point out that, by any standards of measurement, Britain’s education system overall, at both secondary and tertiary levels, is equal to that of any in the world.
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