Western Leader : January 19th 2012
www.westernleader.co.nz 12 WESTERN LEADER, JANUARY 19, 2012 NEWS Not all rubbish is rubbish Let s get our rubbish sorted facebook.com/aklcouncil aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/wasteplan Have your say at Trade troubles -- two case histories It s that time of the year -- when parents and pupils, argue (and debate) the education year and the profession or trade years ahead. With a difference. The desperate need for trades- people to rebuild a shattered, shaky Christchurch has focused on a national shortage of the many trained people that huge project demands. And in this column there s been continuing concern over major flaws in trade training and the worrying emphasis on graduates rather than experienced technology trades- people in the nation s trades classrooms. The first critic who began the topic said: We have people teaching workshops who don t know how to use the equipment correctly, don t know the dangers associated with the equipment and what safety precautions need to be observed. These people have degrees but in most cases no trade training and are picking it up as they go along. Other experienced tradesmen have agreed -- well-based criticisms from men who have had successful careers in both work places and technology classrooms. Another feature: A deafening silence from people in Wellington who have shaped new and suspect curriculum policy. And no reaction from those who have made appointments of a new- style technical tutor with a degree but practically no experience -- per- haps in a school near you. In the latest mailbag, rounding off the debate: From a parent, Leslie Walters, Glen Eden: My son showed great promise at Glen Eden Intermediate in anything of a technical nature. They made all sorts of things and his enthusiasm came home where he made robots, radio-controlled vehicles and boats, all of his own design, even though he was only 12 and 13. His technology teacher was his favourite and he looked forward to being able to continue his learning at high school. Unfortunately, he was very dis- appointed in the college technology classes he went on to. The high school technology courses did not encourage anything. The teacher turned the lesson into an art class, not allowing the students to use dangerous chisels, so a candlestick was laboriously shaped using sandpaper. I think they also spent over a week studying the fake rock sculp- ture that s in Albert Park and the other horrible stuff by the same art- ist. This was their inspiration for the shape of their candlesticks. The technology curriculum says the idea of the course is for the student to identify a problem then try to come up with a solution. My son did nothing of the sort. He was allowed to make a bookshelf for himself (this sort of fits with find a problem and a solution because he did need a bookshelf). But the teacher kept criticising him for not putting corrugated iron or paua designs on the front (my son wanted a plain bookshelf for his bedroom). It got to the stage where my son was totally demoralised and dropped out of school. I spoke to the head of technology but he just defended the teacher and did not show any interest in the fact the classes were not being run correctly. My son is now 21, and although he has been employed almost fulltime since leaving school, his place of work has just closed down so he is now looking for work with no real qualification and little chance of employment in what he has been doing. In the years since leaving school he has completely rebuilt two motorcycles and got them to road worthiness. He has also done con- siderable work on his own car, replacing the entire steering and braking systems and some body work as well. He is self-taught in most of what he does, with some occasional encouragement and advice from me. He s looking for someone who will take him on as an apprentice. His bad experience at school still haunts him, I think, so he s not looking forward to any classroom time. Eric C Strickett: I retired after 42 years in a prototype engineering workshop and I totally agree with those serious concerns of advanced tradesmen who have written to you. This is a typical example of graduate associations taking over every type of tertiary education institution to create more jobs for their graduates. As those two ex-lecturers wrote earlier, they and younger men applying for positions in these so- called trade or upskilling institutes, face an unwritten agenda -- only university graduates will ever be considered and short-listed for appointments. Bookish graduates with theoreti- cal background but no practical nous are a danger to both them- selves and their students. I was delegated by my workshop supervisor to train apprentices. Even on a one-to-one basis, that can be very stressful -- gradually letting them become independent, starting with the slowest, least-dangerous machines. I demanded they always did no more than I authorised -- if they were not sure, then they stopped and saw me. In one sad case, we took on a good lad, not too stroppy, the basic stuff, but slow as he advanced along. I had my suspicions. He had a bad spell. I repeatedly showed him a particular technique. No joy. His eyes were bloodshot, he was half asleep. I said: You ve got to tell me, what are you on? You re a danger to all. If you level with me I will not pot you, but you must improve. I ll find you a safe bench job today. Next day, same again. He had a dad pushing him around. I said to the lad that either he or I had to see the chief man. I hope you will. I ll come with you. It was resolved to give him one more chance. No good, so he was asked to resign. He thanked us. Years later, a strapping young man strode into the workshop. Remember me? he said. I went to Australia to start a new life., I m great now. You guys showed me some compassion and made me turn my life around. In earlier times, you could get a diploma in many areas -- surveying, associate member of the Institute of Engineers through part-time study. It s all shut down now -- degree or nothing! The graduates have taken over, and who do they lobby in gov- ernment? Their fellow graduates. Now Christchurch needs hun- dreds of all types of tradespeople to rebuild the city. They re advertising overseas. Why? Because they haven t trained enough real tradesmen for years. It s disgraceful, just paying school-leavers the dole. They should be paid to go to technical schools and be trained, and found work helping maintain houses or building more houses in lower socio-economic areas. I rest my case. Thank you to the number of con- cerned readers who have contri- buted to this important topic over several months.
January 17th 2012
January 20th 2012