We Owe Students Success, Not Debt!
Young Canadians owe over $30 billion in student loan debt! Half dropped out of the program they borrowed for, have no credential to show for their debt, and have lost precious months or years. Society does great disservice insisting, whether or not they have clear career goals, students should immediately go from high school to university. In Switzerland, a prosperous country with 2% youth unemployment, 80% of students do NOT go to university from secondary school. At 5.7% overall, Canada’s unemployment rate is at its lowest level in decades. But youth unemployment is 10.3% and youth underemployment is over 30%. Too many graduates, let alone drop-outs, are in low-paying, low-benefit, low-security jobs unrelated to their interests and studies. How disheartening it must be to wonder how or when they will be able they pay off their loans, get out of their parent’s basement, and begin a fulfilling, productive adult life. School curriculum is about preparing students for more education. The assumption seems to be that when ‘the system’ decides their heads are sufficiently full of arbitrary, age-based, prescribed curriculum they’ll be ready for adult life. Most aren’t. Student engagement in school plummets to 40% or less in high school. Students seldom get a satisfactory answer to the question, “Why do I need to learn this?” It’s no wonder the employee engagement among adults is about 33%, disengagement is 51%, and active disengagement (sabotage) is 16% (Gallup). Neuroscience tells us clearly that when young brains are stressed, tired, hungry, afraid, or bored they simply cannot learn. Every young person is born with the potential to be a prodigy in something, even those who are learning- or behaviourally-challenged. We must provide the understanding, acceptance, opportunity, support, encouragement, and love they need to find their something, their purpose, their WHY. When they find it, engagement, optimism and self-confidence sky rocket. Behaviour issues decline. Teacher satisfaction and parental engagement escalate. Student engagement in school plummets to 40% or less in high school. Helping our youth discover their unique strengths, find their WHY, and learn what they need for success and happiness in the life they dream of must be job 1 for educators, parents, indeed, for the entire community!