Saturday, October 25, 2008

Year 12 leaving ceremony

It was interesting to watch the leaving ceremony for the year 12's. It gives you a lot to think about for times where you are helping set up such an event and things that kids really need to do to make these events successful.

Firstly all kids need to feel included in the ceremony - not just the popular kids. Photo montages need to include everyone, memorable events need to cover the full spectrum of students academic, sporting, VET; dominant personalities need to celebrate and value the achievements of all, not just the popular few.

Perhaps we need to consider how we could create photo libraries for all years, mini yearbooks documenting events as they occur as part of the various handshaking ceremonies throughout the year.

There was a clear lack of thanks from the current year group. There was a brief thanks to all our teachers and then a celebration of all the events where misbehaviour had occurred and had perhaps caused embarrassment to students, the school or disrupted classes. This left a sour taste in the mouths of the senior teachers as a lot of effort had gone into getting this cohort over the line. Many have decided to give the graduation ceremony and dinner a miss. Maybe this is an indication that we need to focus on those that appreciate our efforts and that the efforts at 'inclusive' education have gone too far. Maybe students beliefs are right and we are not doing enough! I don't know but somehow I doubt that our efforts are best spent on students that perform at a very low level (even with all the help in the world) and take away time from students that could really use extra help. There needs to be further authority given to schools to move students that will not respond to learning opportunities to free up time for those ready. Perhaps it is just my utilitarian tendencies showing through.

When all graduate there is a clear diminishing of value placed on secondary graduation. With graduation rates of 80-100% and all students needing to continue school to year 12, graduation for many has limited worth. Many leave with little more knowledge than they had at year 10. It has diminished the achievements of those attempting TEE courses, there is little recognition of the difference in effort required. I feel for those that attempt TEE courses and get fails on their certificates due to external circumstance instead of taking the easy option and doing VET or alternate education courses.

Another clear transformation is the knowledge that these kids will probably communicate with their cohort for some time unlike any cohort from my time. The advent of Facebook and mySpace will mean that they can have instant communication with their cohort and an instant network to resolve issues and celebrate success. I don't know if this is a good thing as coming of age was about new times and new people, the removal of negative reinforcers and a new beginning.

The lack of concern of students for their TEE exams and the haphazard attitude to study borne through portfolio entry and low TEE scores is definitely to their detriment. The baptism of fire is now more dip in a warm pool. These students have managed to leave school without any anxiety of security and self worth - how will I support myself, what occupation can I do, how will I be worthy of my life partner, how will I be a valid contributor to society? Resilience is something borne of experience and these students lack any real concept of the difficulty of gaining true independence.

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