When a former student asked me for advice about leaving high school before she graduates and entering the workforce at the end of Year 11 my instinct was to tell her:
“Do it. JUMP! Your high school education is overrated and has little bearing of on your future success. Your work ethic and your passion is what will drive you.”
She had a plan, both for short term employment and future education. She has a Certificate III in Retail, thanks to her high school. She has the backing of a current employer who is looking to push her into their own training system, and at least one of her parents appear supportive. She wants to save a deposit for a house. She wants to start moving forward and can’t see that happening at school.
When I was precisely her age, I too thought about leaving high school. My father ran his own business and we had often talked about me working there when I left school. I found school boring, and consequently put in little effort. I didn’t feel like it offered me anything. A teacher changed my mind.
He told me that I had a pretty special group of friends, and that yes, school may not offer me a great deal in terms of education that next year, but leaving now would change the relationship I had with those friends. My life would be different to theirs and asked if am I ready for that. He was right. I had terrific Year 12 experience. It had nothing to do with education and everything to do with relationships.
I don’t know my former student’s friendship group well. I do know that some of them have had struggles during their high school years, both socially and academically. My feeling is that my former student would benefit from leaving the high school social environment and start finding her place in the world. I wasn’t ready at her age. I didn’t have a plan and I wasn’t thinking about the future. I just wanted out.
There is a fear as a parent, that your children will make irreparable decisions that will damage their futures. We see it as our job to prevent them from making those choices. Trouble is – how do we know? I haven’t given this former student any advice on what to do. I’ve listened and told her to talk to her parents.
If this was your child, what would you do?
Photo by: Wade
CC BY-SA 2.0