Posted on 07 February 2013 by admin
In the past, there was an unfortunate tendency for schools to adopt a “one-size-fits-all” approach to promoting academic excellence.
Students who excelled in math, science or languages were regarded as successful. It was assumed that the goal of all students would be to advance to university and those who didn’t meet that goal were sometimes seen as failures.
In more recent years, attitudes have changed. This is partly a reflection of changing job markets.
It became a cliché that graduates with PhDs in philosophy were flipping burgers in fast food joints, weighed down by student loans, while welders and pipefitters were making a killing in the oil sands.
Not every student is suited for academia and not everyone will find a career in the trades, but it’s a good thing for students to be exposed to different avenues while they’re still young. At the very least, they should be considering all options.
Students have many diverse talents and schools should seek to allow all of them to flourish.
That’s why we’re encouraged by an initiative last week to introduce Grade 6 and 7 students at local elementary schools to the trades.
Boyd Turnbull, the career education co-ordinator with School District 53 and a shop teacher in Keremeos, brought in journeymen from the community to give the kids lessons in carpentry, plumbing, metal work, welding and electrical.
The students appeared enthralled by the chance to experience these skills and have their horizons opened.
A side benefit of last week’s event was that a number of trades people had a chance to share their skills and knowledge with young people. They had a chance to be teachers.
In Turnbull’s view, everyone should have a trade that at least they can fall back on, even if they choose not to pursue it as their main career.
Those who decide to go on to university and become professionals will still benefit from the experience the trade has given them, he says.
This is excellent advice.
These days, many of us will change careers, sometimes several times over our lifetimes. Technologies change, and entire industries come and go. Those with a broad skill set will adapt the best.
Having several seemingly unrelated skills can also help us to think outside the box in our careers. You simply never know when you’ll draw on the knowledge from your trade.
It is encouraging that schools are moving away from old attitudes that once looked down on the trades, and in doing so, denied some students the chance to succeed.
Kudos to Turnbull and the school district for giving these young students a hands-on chance to experience the possibilities that trades can offer.