I am a big time believer in education. I am unsure if my grandmothers finished school. I know my mother's father did not finish school and my father's father learned to read and write at the age of 24. No surprises - they taught me to value education. Brought up in Africa where free education is not the norm, I quickly came to appreciate the opportunities my parents gave me by sacrificing a lot in order for me to get my GCSEs. However, four A levels, one Diploma and one Degree later I find myself wondering about the future of education.
Having spent the last 13 years of my three decades of life in England, I've been disheartened by the lack of respect people have for the opportunity of free and accessible education that is available here. And, my own experiences of how university 'prepared' me for the 'real world' left me nonplussed.
Bridging the gap between education and the workplace
So, when an invite from Working Knowledge entitled 'Help bridge the gap between education and the workplace with Peterborough Regional College' arrived in my LinkedIn inbox I took notice.
In short, I like what Working Knowledge are doing. They "partner with colleges to run events with staff, students and the business community to ensure that education better matches what businesses need for growth". So I attended the SPLASH with Peterborough Regional College event as a member of the business community. With other local businesses, we conducted interviews, business meetings, dragon's den style pitches and generally lent our expertise to over 80 college tutors for a day.
The good and bad news about higher education
Here's the good news:
- The majority of teachers are very passionate about teaching and want to make a difference.
- Peterborough Regional College obviously recognises their students could be better prepared for the working world and they are doing something about it.
- Thanks to Working Knowledge change is being encouraged, cultivated and actioned one small step at a time.
Here's why an education revolution is an absolute requirement:
- Based on the ideas teachers put forward as potential 'businesses' on the day, current systems for careers advice are viewed as weak and out of touch by teachers themselves.
- During the days activities, most teachers stayed firmly within their comfort zones - I found this lack of boundary pushing in a world that is meant to expand the minds of students very worrying.
- Although passionate about what knowledge they share most teachers have no working practise in the fields in which they teach.
- And so, there is an elephant in the room! There is a severe lack of understanding and real life application in whatever area of 'expertise' a tutor is teaching. I mean this in terms of the basics - finance, marketing, sales etc of the real life business each course is leading students toward.
- Based on what I see, very few students are inspired or believe they can make a success of themselves. In fact, many haven't even questioned what success actually means to them.
- As a growing business there comes a time when taking on staff becomes essential no matter how scary! Seven years ago I was the girl fresh out of uni at my first proper job and feeling way out my depth. I've also had the joy of being involved in recruiting a girl fresh out of uni for my other project. I know from both experiences that we need to do more to "bridge the gap between education and the workplace".
Anyone want to agree, disagree or add to my thoughts? I had plans to get involved in education in Africa. But right now, I'm in England. Working Knowledge have given me the chance to get involved in education right here, right now. And so I end this blog with a cliché but true statement - I have dreams of a Something Beckons academy and this is just the beginning!