Sunday, 2 December 2012

The unemployment rate among

young people in Europe is apparently about "one in four". "Unemployed" apparently means those who are not working and/or studying. I do not know whether, like Australia, anyone with even just a few hours work each week is considered to be "employed".
If so, it would mean a great many more people are "under-employed". Do we really consider someone doing just ten hours a week to be a full-time employee?
If the statistics were known then Australia would probably have almost as many "unemployed" young people as Europe.
But if young people are not studying and not employed what are they doing all day?
My nephews have had part-time employment right through university. It has mostly been "promotional" work. They are registered with a company that provides personnel for places that need people to do things like demonstrate how a coffee machine works or hand out free chocolates in shopping centres. They must be good at it (I suspect they are as they have had acting training) as the company calls them when they are needed. They have had all the work they needed.
My youngest nephew is currently in charge of a team of ten others - all demonstrating the latest video games in our city shopping mall. It is "good fun for a little while" but he has other plans for his post-student days. He also says that many of those who have wandered in to the area to look are "kids with nothing else to do".
We discussed this and came to the conclusion that if we were dictators we would find things for them to do - and not just as "work for the dole". We came to the conclusion that you need to start way back, when they are at school.
You have to get them into the habit of reading for pleasure. That's a given. You also have to get them into the habit of making things. Neither of these things is now taken seriously in school.
Oh reading is taught, of course it is taught. It is still central to the learning process but reading for pleasure is not given the prominence it once was. There  are "too many other things" to do apparently. Three primary school teachers have told me this on separate occasions in the past week. 
As for making anything. Well apparently there are all sorts of restrictions on what can and cannot be done and "creativity" connected with computers is more likely to feature than scissors, glue or paintbrushes.
Recently my father showed a child how to fold a simple origami style "box". The boy had never done anything like that before. My father brought out one of the books he has filled with such things and showed the child what could be done with a simple square of paper. "Awe" and "disbelief" would not begin to describe the look on the child's face.
     "Well, if you can read, you can find out how to make them yourself," my father told him.
Sadly, I am not sure the child really believed him. The idea that you might read to find out how to make something for the sheer pleasure of it was foreign to him. No wonder there are so many "kids with nothing to do"...and I suspect it contributes to the unemployment rate.


Sue Bursztynski said...

Getting kids to read for pleasure is the job of teacher librarians like me. But we're a dying species. Since schools have been given their own budgets and principals a choice of how to spend it, it has become too easy to make cutbacks in areas such as the school library. My own budget has been cut in half in the sat two years and it was tiny to begin with. I have taken pride in getting around this problem and finding ways to give our students the Brst library experienc, but people like me won't be around for much longer.
As for origami, it was a student who showed me how to make a paper crane. ;-) But the ones where I work do some wonderful things for their assignments and take pride in their "projects". One of my Year 8 girls made me a fabulous card for National Teachers Day and three others got together to make something to celebrate the launch of my first novel.

Why shouldn't kids be creative with things other than paper and glue anyway? When I was growing up, I would have been thrilled to have the chance to do a book trailer or even a simple PowerPoint. We had to use paper and glue because that's all that was available, but this doesn't mean it's the only thing that SHOULD be available.

catdownunder said...

I agree Sue - and you need the support of ALL teachers, not just some. I know teacher librarians who no longer do any library work, one of them no longer has a library at all - and another local school wants to use the library for another purpose next year. The books will be "stored" until they make a decision about what is to be done with them!
I was not suggesting that kids should only use paper and glue - just that some of them never use paper and glue, indeed do not know how to use them. I'd like to see kids design something on a computer and then actually make it - best of both worlds.