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Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Big Life Decisions

There is a wonderful scene in Dispatches from Elsewhere where the character, Simone, goes back to her former college professor for help with something. He tells her he was hoping she was coming to re-enroll. Simone responds that she feels she's not in a position to make big life decisions. He points out that it's not a big life decision, it's just a decision for now and she's allowed to change her mind. He himself had started in Marine Biology before deciding he was passionate about art. "We make a decision and then if we need to, we make another decision".

With kids at school, they fall into a path or hobby (or parental pressure) and it grows, and they're pushed along, forgetting that at any point they can decide to follow another interest. They need to pick subjects to carry them through the last years of school, with limited experience in any of them. They need to pick University courses or jobs with a long career in mind, more or less when they're fifteen years old.

But it's not really how life works, so why do we set them up with this expectation placed upon them?

At a talk at one of the Universities, they asked everyone over 35 to put their hand up if they were still doing the thing they started when they left school. Not a single hand went up, including lecturer's. The conversations framed around the HSC are completely unrealistic.

I think we'd take a lot of pressure off school leavers if we made them understand this. The next step after the HSC means very little, in the grand scheme of thing.  Perhaps better advice for these kids, pressured into deciding their future at 18 is, as the art  professor says "Find something that makes you feel good, try it out. You're allowed to be wrong".

It doesn't matter if you don't know what you want to do next, just do whatever is in front of you, but do it with purpose and dedication, and to the best of your abilities.

We have mistakenly somehow turned the HSC into some sort of achievement in itself, and done a disservice to the students in the process. Rather than preparing for a new beginning, the focus is too sharp on marking the end of school. The students feel enormous (and unnecessary) pressure for the HSC exams, but as we see with the University drop out rates, they also aren't prepared for the expectations of what lies beyond the school gate.  We have failed them in their final year of school and their readiness for their choices afterwards.

There is a new push in schools to make pupils see that year 12 is actually a transitional preparation year, preparing the pupil for work or study after the completion of their school years. We need to remember the HSC is merely the starting point of adulthood, not a destination in itself and in no way should it be viewed with the importance of a 'Big Life Decision'.

Linking with #MLSTL as a reminder that in life there are really very few Big Life Decisions.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Musings Of A Tired Mummy


30 comments:

  1. High school graduation is ending one phase of education to prepare for the next. There is a lot to learn. #MLSTL

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  2. Oh this is so true Lydia. I used to try to tell my niece this - though she was pretty set on dancing and performing.

    I thought I wanted to be an accountant. (Well I wanted to be a journalist or in PR but my folks didn't like that idea, so Commerce it was.) Then psychology. I slowly edged my way out of the social sector over a period of years and moved on again and again. Until 10-15yrs ago when my skillset was broader, I had a heap of different 'professions'. And yes, I would never have guessed at many when I was at school. (Though I did only enjoy English, Maths and Accounting!)

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    1. I just listened to an interview with Martin Short about how Frank Sinatra said his dad was always around to piss on his dreams and I just thought 'I don't ever want to be that parent'.

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    2. It doesn't sound like you will be. xx

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  3. Hi Lydia, Great advice on making decisions. Indecision can be very stressful. And, yes, the career path I initially had totally changed ten years later. An excellent post, Lydia, on many levels and all throughout life.🙂 (An aside: I have tried subscribing to your blog in the past where it says “net vibes and my yahoo” and no luck. I also added my email address. I appreciate you link up with #MLSTL and I then see your posts)

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    1. I don't think I have a subcribe option??? Hmmm, I def don't do a newsletter...I just saw where you mean. I don't think it's a thing. I'll either fix it or remove it...but thanks for the heads up.

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  4. Decisions...decisions! I've been feeling it after being let go. Different jobs come up. I've been applying to things that fit me, and other things I know I can just do. My husband rolls his eyes at me with some things, but hey we're in a recession. I got to make an income somehow.

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    1. That's the topic for another post - pressure and urgency. Good luck with that. I saw your post on that and really feel for you. Good luck and try to stay sane - that's such a HUGE stress.

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  5. I totally agree Lydia. I remember doing the HSC (a very long time ago) and the pressure was so great one of our outstanding students had a breakdown and couldn't sit here exam. We don't really know what we want to do at that age and even when we get older we feel that we are trapped, yet we can always start over on something new. Thanks for sharing your insights with us at #MLSTL and have a lovely day. xx

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  6. Hi Lydia - I've had several work transitions from what I initially studied to be. It's so rare these days for anyone to stay in the same job or the same career path for life. I told both our "kids" that they needed to study so they had choices - those choices were up to them, but it needed to be from desire and not desperation.
    Both also took a gap year between high school and uni - and that was the best decision ever - they were certainly more mature and more settled than if they'd launched straight into uni from school.

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  7. So very true Lydia , it seems hard to get this message through at times! #mlstl

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  8. Hi Lydia, first time reader here, visiting from MLSTL. I admire people who just know from an early age what they want out of life. The rest of us need to accept that trial and error is the next best way to get there.

    I would love to put your posts into the context of who you are and what stage of life you are in, but I did not see an "About Me" page.

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    1. I'm an elusive and easily excitable old lady...three kids, two school aged, married for a long time (luckily), living in the city...(Sydney). My about me page is actually just who I write for and how to contact me and not updated for MANY years...

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    2. I'm like the Pirandello character and whatever you need me to be...hehehehe

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  9. I am not having fun commenting...anyway, what I think I said was HSC is not the be all and end all for everyone as we found out when one of ours did not complete it and 2/3 of our grandkids also did not. Denyse #mlstl

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    1. Interestingly we know a couple of $10 million plus people and they ALL left school between 14-16 (one expelled). So it appears even schooling or lack of doesn't hold you back from anything...

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  10. This is so true, yet our education system (in the UK) seems determined to force us into making school leaving that big decision. Or it did when i was that age

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  11. If I had stayed in the same job I started after school I never would have found the one that I gladly stayed at for 25 years. Even then, when I started that job, I thought I would only be there for a couple of years until I found a different one. But once I got there, I realized I not only liked the job but the people that I was working with...many of whom were still there with me when that office closed it's doors.

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  12. I believe education needs to be a foundation for learning. It needs to give students tools and study methods to help them be able to reason things out, care for their needs in a mature manner, and have the desire to keep on learning after they are on their own. The focus should not be just passing tests. Skills like reading, writing, science, math, art, music, and courses in interpersonal relationships will help them succeed in life no matter how many or how few careers they try on for size. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL.

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    1. In Australia, we have made it all about the HSC mark. The drop out rate at University is now close to 3 out of 5 people. Universities are now looking for other ways to find students because the high ATAR doesn't actually mean a good university student. As one Uni said 'It's very easy to find first year students but it's getting much harder to find second year students to enrol'

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  13. I certainly didn't decide what I wanted to do straight after leaving school! Still changing my mind even now haha! #stayclassymama

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  14. Takesc me back to when my children were leaving school #dreamteam@_karendennis

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  15. Love this. So many at that age still don't even know who they really are yet, to make decisions for the rest of their lives is craziness. I wanted to watch Dispatches from Elsewhere but there is so much out there I just can't keep up. There's probably some relevance to that analogy but I'm too tires to connect the dots right now. I'm sure I'll watch it eventually #KCACOLS

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  17. My life plans have not worked out at all! Flexibility and a good sense of humour are important! Thanks for linking up with #stayclassymama

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  18. I do feel there is a lot of pressure on kids riding on our exams here to decide their futures too, and when it comes to it, the exams are only one small thing. I don't use any of the exams I did now, in later life. A very wise post #stayclassymama

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  19. I completely agree. Whilst some exams are really important to get under your belt (I'm talking from a University Admissions Officer perspective) - life happens and changes us. Our ideas and passions evolve and really, school age is very early to be making any big decisions about anything. Though having said that, a big decision to go down one academic route, may very well then open a completely different door in years to come. Thank you for joining us for the #DreamTeamLinky - love this post.

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  20. I think there should be more of a push over here (the UK) to make it clear it's more of a transitional phase and the rest of your life shouldn't depend on the decisions you make in your mid-late teens. I'm 33 and I'm definitely not doing what I did when I left school, or anything that I thought I would be!

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

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  21. Totally agree there is far too much pressure on young people to make decisions and I still don't know what I am doing and I'm in my late 30's! #KCACAOLS

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  22. This is so true. I am an example of that. I am doing a completely different thing now than what I studied. I was confused when I finished high school and went for a decision that seemed logical for me and my family back then but not necessarily something I was too passionate about it. You definitely have the chance to change your mind later. This is just one step towards that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us at #kcacols :-) xx

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