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Comment: Celebrating difference

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UniqueWhen it comes to learning and development, who says we all have to take the same route, asks Gemma Middleton?








The Brit Awards recently took place in London, where the crème de la crème of music attended, all hoping to win the prestigious silver statue. The show is always a crowd puller, with millions tuning in to see if their favourite acts win. However, few people probably realise that a large percentage of the money generated from the award night funds the Brit Performing Arts and Technology School.

The initial thoughts that leap to mind when thinking about the Brit School are not what you would call career enhancing: images of classes being held on 'how to accept an award' and 'how best to get in the tabloids' spring to mind. But on closer inspection that could not be further from the truth.

"One of the great things about this world is that we are all unique, with different dreams, passions and skills. So trying to shoehorn people into learning methods that just aren't for them is a waste of resources and time."

The Brit School is the first of its kind, a state school that is independent from any local education authority and offers free places to talented young people. The school teaches 14 to 19 year olds about the performing arts, providing the skills of the trade that their pupils are so desperate to follow and nurturing raw talent who would not necessarily have the opportunity to go to a fee-paying performing arts school. It is development opportunities like these that seem to be making a real difference to many young futures. This of course complements the government's plans of ensuring young people are actively involved in development, albeit not in traditional topics.

News stories to do with learning and development over the past month have ranged from an overhaul of the apprentice scheme, to the government determined to reduce the number of 18 to 24 year olds claiming unemployment benefits by entering into education or the workplace.

Whilst the government is pushing for traditional higher education, the number of university dropouts has remained at 22% over the past five years, despite the government spending £800m to address the problem. (Just take a minute to let those figures sink in.) It makes me ask the question, is pushing for higher education via universities the way we should be approaching learning and development for young people?

"The rewards for choosing traditional, academic careers are well known and in fact drummed into students while at school. But some people are just not made that way - as Kate Nash said in her winning speech for the Best British Female award at this year's Brits."

When we were little children, the majority of us would have probably wanted to be either a pop star or a footballer - even if our singing rivalled a flock of squawking sea gulls or the dribbling skills we had were nothing to do with our feet, that was what we wanted to be. The fact that these professions are hard to get into has led to many parents and society in general steering young people away from these and towards schooling and traditional careers, with support lacking for creative arts.

The rewards for choosing traditional, academic careers are well known and in fact drummed into students while at school. But some people are just not made that way - as Kate Nash said in her winning speech for the Best British Female award at this year's Brits.

This is not to say that the traditional academic route of A-Levels to university is wrong - having come from that route myself, I can say that it can definitely work if you are that way inclined.

One of the great things about this world is that we are all unique, with different dreams, passions and skills. So trying to shoehorn people into learning methods that just aren't for them is a waste of resources and time. After all, if everybody’s paths were the same the world would be a very dull and uninspiring place indeed.

Gemma Middleton is a communications specialist
At Righttrack Consultancy. For more information about Righttrack go to: www.righttrackconsultancy.co.uk

To read more about the drop-out rates at university go to:
news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7252723.stm

News Comment:
Would you like to comment on recent news of relevance to the training community as Gemma Middleton has done here? We're looking for more people to comment on training issues: on evaluation, coaching, mentoring, NLP, learning and development and training issues in general. If you've got something to say then please get in touch. Email me at [email protected]

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