As a parent, I know there’s a big difference between ‘time’ and ‘quality time’ – you raise your children, nurture their existence, and hang onto every moment as they grow older and depend on you less and less. You want the best for them, and right up there with happiness and health is their education.
This year and last Class Of Your Own has had the absolute privilege of working with some amazing young people, but working in a school may seem a daunting task to many of our readers, and particularly working with teenagers.
We all recall the mood swings and feeling that grown ups were never on the same wavelength. As one of those who finally grew up, perhaps the thought of putting oneself back into a small room with 30 high spirited young people doesn’t bear thinking about. But isn’t that just it? Think back – we were all that age once, with hopes and dreams of a life less ordinary, and lots of fun to be had on the way.
I have nothing but praise for the teachers I have met, who share that vision for the children they tend.
I recall my favourite teacher, Mr Alan Barker of Myers Grove School (who bore the brunt of our remarks about his very dull navy blue ties and unkempt hair, for which I now sincerely apologise!) had a knack of making physics fun and exciting. More than that, it was meaningful – we appreciated how physics fitted into our everyday lives. Seeing him some 23 years later when I went back to Myers Grove to work with the Y7s and 8s gave me the opportunity to say thank you. (And for the record, he hadn’t changed a bit.)
Imagine if your child was in that school local to your place of work and you were given just one hour per month to spend some time there. You’d be in the classroom like a shot offering some help, some inspiration, some of your life experience in the hope that some of this will rub off and mean something to someone who looks up to you.
Working with children in that capacity for the past two years has given me exactly that. To hear that some of the students are looking at careers they’d never even thought of before they embarked on the Class Of Your Own journey makes me grin from ear to ear. To see young people deliver eloquent presentations on subjects they knew nothing about the day before puts a lump in my throat every time.
2011 brings a whole new programme, working with children to help them teach other children (and dare I say other grown ups in the construction industry) how to use professional building information modelling software, share ideas, COLLABORATE. Now there’s a grown up word you don’t hear often enough in our own grown up world.
I don’t deny it – I get a huge sense of pride and self worth every time I go into the classroom. But I’m not a teacher – I’m a land surveyor for goodness sake! How can that happen?! It’s very clear to me – there is a place for industry in the classroom. I am so excited for the future; both my own and the children whom I have met, whom I’m working with, or am still to meet.
And so it’s the end of the year, and as I sit at my desk refining the COYO Programme for Design (and hopefully coming up with a title somewhat more exciting!), I ask all working mums and dads who give so much quality time to their own children to resolve to spare a little quality time for those in their local schools.
Encourage your boss to see the benefit and sign up to one of the many schemes that are out there to help – Construction Skills, Business in the Community, The Prince’s Trust, Education Business Partnerships…get googling! There are work experience schemes, mentoring schemes, apprenticeship schemes (something I absolutely believe in), all supported by people who can help your business get something supremely rewarding out of each and every experience. Or contact the school directly and offer mentor sessions, careers talks, company tours….
Make your new year’s resolution to offer quality time to young people. Discover the habit of a lifetime, and have a really happy 2011!
(Thanks to all our lovely ‘grown up’ (!) friends who helped to make 2010 special for so many young people…we look forward to seeing you next term for more of the same – Ali)