Stand up straight…

26 03 2008

Ever one for cutting news, I thought I would just have a quick think about the recent concerns about armies and schools.

At my school we had, every year, a careers ‘festival’ (I am still not quite sure why it was so called, but anyway…). At this event there were at least a hundred different professions or universities represented by someone. One of which was the armed forces. Now I attended three of these events during my school life, the first was when I was 15. I considered myself old enough to not be ‘brainwashed’ by any of the careers which were on show there. I readily accepted that all came with the intention of pulling students into this career or that career. Maybe this explains why I have not found anything I really enjoyed doing yet, or maybe it doesn’t.

Anyway, the point is, I didn’t know anyone who absolutely knew what they wanted to do at that age. Nor did they a year later. Nor a year after that. Not completely at any rate. People have ideas of what field they might want to go into by the time they are 17, but not the actual job.

One of my mates was, when he was 16, dead keen to be in the navy. This eagerness continued through his school life, but he didn’t leave after his GCSE’s, and instead completed his A Levels. Now when I say dead keen, I really mean it. The navy stand was the only one he would ever go to, and he would spend ages and ages talking to the people about life in the navy. He was more than interested. Yet he didn’t join up after his GCSE’s. Someone talked him out of it, somehow.

This friend is now studying business at uni, and, the last time I checked, has given up on a career in the armed forces in any capacity.

My point is that people change their minds. I mean, if I had stuck to my plan, I would be on my way to being an architect now. And, let me assure you, I’m not.

Because of this though, I agree that we should allow the army into schools to talk to people about future careers. To my mind it is the same as someone from a lawyers office, or a doctors practise, or a hairdressing salon coming and talking about their work. To me, the students need to know what is out there. The armed forces is a career that is out there. So it makes sense to let them talk about what they do.

Now I do disagree with the idea of people signing up at 16. That is too young for me. Let them sign up at 18 if they so wish, two years initial training, with the option to opt out at certain points is, to me, much better than the same thing began two years earlier. But I think that they should know about the options and reach a decision as they are growing up. Just like they know about what it is a hot- shot lawyer does, for example.

I do not buy into this whole ‘propaganda’ talk. I think it is part and parcel of society nowadays, and I’m sure desires to be a doctor for example are because of the ‘glamourous’ nature of the doctors that are on tv (the guy from Lost, for example). That is as bad, to me, as recruitment posters for the army which glamourise the work they do.

It is all propaganda I think (rather cynically). A glossy brochure showing why its great being a lawyer or doctor or hairdresser is part of the aim for each of these businesses, to attract more people in. The army should be allowed to do the same. But it shouldn’t want to start this recruitment drive at 16.

Just as way of an afterthought, but for anyone else who had, or went to similar events, was there ever anyone there from the workshop floor of a factory for example? Or who drove lorries? I know there wasn’t for me, but then again, I went to a private school…




2 responses

29 03 2008

The difference with the army being at the careers fair is that it’s a job that could well get you and your colleagues seriously injured or killed. It’s a job that may lead to you taking the lives of other human beings, very possibly civilians. The NUT felt these aspects weren’t being emphasised, and that children from less priviledged backgrounds might be easily dazzled by the promise of good pay, travel to places they would never normally see, and a decent pension- a way out of their present situation, without considering the danger involved…

And in answer to your question, we didn’t have careers events!

30 03 2008

I agree, but I think the proposals of banning the army from schools is a flawed one. They should be made to clean up their act in terms of what they are advertising, yes.
But alongside that I would suggest that *all* other jobs should do likewise (ie being a lawyer isn’t all courtrooms and big cases, being a doctor involves helping kids who have got a cold etc).

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