Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Soaring to new heights... despite school

It’s specific moments in life, good and bad, that can cause students to really consider their aspirations. Talking just recently to a student who, by his own admission, had spent years underachieving in school, one rather serious event really caused him to reconsider his future.

From having no real plan for the future, apart from ‘being a pain in school’ (is that a plan?) he now has aspirations to be a paramedic. Not just any paramedic but a helicopter paramedic. It is not so much the thought of flying everywhere, which he admits would be fun but rather the challenge of helping people in possibly remote and challenging environments that had really interested him.

This was not just talk – he had done extensive work and research on the internet and through initiative. Rather boldly he had walked straight into an ambulance station and talked to staff there and also hung around a hospital chatting to paramedics there. He also met an advisor based in school, who knowing his reputation in school, had worked hard to dissuade him from this interest path. (Why DO they still do that?)

Today he is almost completing the next stage of a paramedic course – he has changed his life. He is certain that staff in his old school would not believe it. The sad part is that he felt he had no support from school, in fact they did not even want to listen to the serious life changing moment that transformed his focus in life. He certainly isn’t going to bother to tell them now that he is achieving his goal despite them.

The introduction of the personalised curriculum, and learner led interests will really help students be able to research and pursue things that interest them – things that are important and that matter. It will also encourage them to set aspirational targets and challenges for themselves and allow them the option of working to fulfil them.

Not all stories are like this, but when you meet young people who have turned their life around whilst in school, it is genuinely quite moving….. but you do wonder how many don’t achieve their goal due to lack of support.

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