Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Loking back at my school days (1)

Looking back at my school days (1)

I was asked only the other day what I thought were the biggest differences between the way schools were run in the 1960s and 1970s and how they operate now.

I think modern schools are far more accountable to the parents and local residents than was the case when I was at school. But it is more than that: modern schools seem to have the pupils at the centre of almost everything that happens. When I was at St Albans School (1966-1973) even the most basic, most sensible, most humane modifications to the way the school operated were viewed with deep suspicion by the Head Master. It was rather like being stuck in a bizarre time warp in which all the changes that had transformed British society since the end of the Second World War had never happened.

Purely in terms of the long-term effect it had on pupils the almost total lack of careers guidance was the strangest omission from the school curriculum. If you wanted to become a doctor or to join the Armed Forces you were well catered for. If your interests lay elsewhere you were pretty much on your own. St Albans was in the London Commuter Belt but as far as I can recall there was never any mention of careers in the City or in law or politics. All this meant that A level choices were made without any thought of what degrees and what careers would be rendered impossible by making wrong, or more likely inappropriate, choices when the pupil was a young as 15 or 16.

I was half way through my A Levels in biology, chemistry and physics before I realised that I would have been far better served by studying economics rather than biology. It was scant consolation when I realised that my preferred option would not have been possible since economics was seen as an “arts side” subject and mixing arts and sciences subjects in the Sixth Form was strictly verboten!   

No comments:

Post a Comment