Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

School behaviour and your future job prospects

I’ve blogged this sort of thing before in some ways:

But I was interested to read this:

“Pupils in the UK were better behaved than the international average.

But Asian countries and regions dominated the top places in this good-behaviour league.”

I am so un-surprised by this. People in rich western countries don’t instill any sort of urgency or panic in their kids to make them study hard. The kids see the parents with cushy jobs and think that homework isn’t a big deal. They leave school with very poor skills and are totally outclassed by foreign competitors. Remember, you aren’t competing against your parents generation, but against kids your age is Japan, China and Kazakhstan. The Kazakhstan kids are paying attention whilst British and American kids text each other and kid around. I have a horrible feeling that we have an entire lazy, ill-educated generation who expect a lifetime of ipods, flat screen TVs, new cars and a luxury house and decent pension, but who have no way to finance any of this.

If you are 15 now, do you really not expect to live to 90? or 100? given modern medical science. How much will that require in terms of a pension? And this is the generation that has student debt from the start, and a huge national debt to pay off one day, not to mention massively increased job competition from the developing world, and increased automation and robotics meaning there won’t be so many menial jobs even if you wanted one. There are already thousands of people with relatively poor qualifications working in call-centers that will be replaced by voice-recog/synthesis AI within 20 years. What will they do? Wash cars? (nope, robots do that already).

I don’t have kids, but if I did, I’d be making damned sure they were top of the class, knowing who they are up against. The near-future economy isn’t defined by mining and construction, but bybiotech, nanotech, computer science and maths. I can’t see any reason why the next big technological boom can’t happen in China or Kazakhstan.

Now do your homework. :D


18 thoughts on School behaviour and your future job prospects

  1. There’s quite a number of totalitarian and recently-totalitarian states in the top 10. Any link between this and ‘child obedience’ , I wonder?

  2. There is no way to pay off the debt.

    On a related note:
    Our current financial system is build on that.
    The interest is adding up and there is no way to prevent the
    need for a reset of this very system one day.

    AS for the children thingy: yes! Good point.
    Start having some childs right now, cliff.
    Without you there will be magnificent less children in the future who know what to do.

  3. To be fair, school just isn’t suited to some people. I personally got nothing out of school past the age of 14. I genuinely learnt nothing past that point. I was busy running a 3d business over the internet with 4 freelance employees and school presented none of the challenge I was seeking in life. I only started learning in university once I suddenly had my days freed up to pick up the skills to make games in my own time and pace. I don’t think the kids are really the problem, its usually the schools utterly failing to engage the new generation.

    At the other end of the problem is we have a generation who think that once schools over you stop learning. I meet so many people who pick up no skills after leaving school/uni and then complain when they become redundant and cant get a job.

    I cant imagine how tedious and unrewarding life must be for people who do the same thing day in and day out for 50 years.

  4. You’re making the assumption that we have an economy geared to competing with the wider world. We don’t. We have an economy financed by debt, built on internal consumer spending, with an oversized finance sector.

    So it’s ok, we can all just work in retail, selling consumer goods to each other by building up ever increasing mortgage and credit card debt! Problem solved!

  5. Just an observation, but behaving well and getting top grades in school does not mean that you are competitive in the real world. I sat through many a lecture in high school that had no meaning to me and no usefulness other than as a check mark on the “list of things colleges like”.

  6. Re. the debt, although it’s a bit outside the scope of this post, even if paying it off isn’t realistic, you can always do what Canada did. Get to the point where you’re no longer accumulating debt, pay down the interest and let inflation triviliaze it over the decades until it’s chump change.

    As for schools not challenging students, I’m not saying that it’s not true, but are things so different in China and Kazakhstan? Have they stumbled across a heretofore unknown educational paradigm or are the students simply more motivated to get what they can out of a flawed system?

  7. I don’t know how it’s in other industries. But I’ve been busy in project management, customer service, team management, IT administration, programming and QAing (in a rather random order) for most of my life.

    While I did study, what got me my position is my personality, and the skills I learned outside of school. When I hire people, which I do often, I look at their skills, experience and personality. I have never before looked at school grades, and I’m quite certain I’m not going to start – not even with people who are fresh from college.

    Behaviour is important, yes. That comes as personality. Skills are really important, yes. The stuff you learn at an European school, university or college? As long as you have the necessary background knowledge, I don’t care for your grades.

  8. I couldn’t agree more. I teach in UK secondary education, pupils attitude to learning is in many cases appalling. They see no point in it, today I had four year 11 students period 1 who had a maths exam in the next day or two. Every one of them had a computer, I spent an entire hour bargaining, moaning and guilt tripping them to leave the stupid game websites and do some revision. I think between four of them about 10 minutes total working took place.

    All I got for my trouble was called a twat.

    I know a guy who taught for a while in Japan where pupils came in on Saturdays as the norm to make sure they were competitive with other pupils.

    I’m starting to think these vocational courses are part of the problem, pupils don’t see value in working so they can do GCSE’s, because they see very low level vocational courses as better and fun.

    This is a cool video I show classes sometimes, worth a watch:

  9. Japan has a rigorous education system and its economy has been in a slump for decades. And one of South Korea’s finest universities, Kaist, has had a wave of suicides. Brutalizing your children doesn’t necessarily make them great leaders.

  10. We have fought an uphill battle for years which has payed of with my son being on honor roll despite some extreme challenges over and above that most kids face. He is now on track to take some college credits early and is entering an aerospace track.

    For my trouble I get told that we are “pushing him too hard”, “need to let him find his own space” and “need to let him fail”. Some of his teachers even seemed more interested in peace and quiet over his success. No good deed goes unpunished, especially when it comes to promoting hard work.

  11. ‘People in Finland cannot be divided by how smart they are…Finland is a society based on equity’ – Reijo Laukkanen, Finnish National Board of Education.

    Finland is very smart in it’s approach on how to teach kids whilst still letting them be kids. The enforced long work hours in school and after school that the Asian model offers wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving in the western world. People are too free, and too opinionated; which can be argued, is far more important than wealth or success.

    I’m all for making sure people are in work, and can sustain their work. But school is neither the cause nor the answer to this problem, it’s almost everything else. From the life experiences to the individual, to their health, to the bank loans apr %, and even to the way the government is run.

    The future is always uncertain, and therefore preparation is nigh on impossible. The real determining factor isn’t the single facet of life, but every single variable.

  12. “There are already thousands of people with relatively poor qualifications working in call-centers that will be replaced by voice-recog/synthesis AI within 20 years. What will they do? Wash cars? (nope, robots do that already).”

    If I would follow trend, I would say they can always work in fast food restaurants for people too lazy to cook for themselves.

    Sadly, this is perhaps -one- sector that depressingly seem like it will never see any slump. Though I wishes at times it would :/

    I still can’t understand people who will burn away 20-30+$ in combo of low quality sandwiches and soda and chips(sometimes very cheap biscuits), without mentionned the gas needed to drive to said fast food, when for but around 14-15$, they can cook pork tendeloin filet with sidedishes, for the same amount of people than they fed with their 20-30$ of cheap sandwiches. Subway, I’m looking at you >:(

  13. I’m not convinced “be afraid” is an effective motivating tool. It sure as hell didn’t work on me.

    Behavior in school isn’t necessarily related to ultimate success. There can be too much emphasis on blind obedience and rote memorization, neither of which produces particularly productive adults. Curiosity is frequently discouraged. The assembly line procedures we use can all too easily grind out the natural desire to learn that kids have.

    Show your kids that you value intelligence, thoughtfulness, inquisitiveness, and creativity and it will work. Make these things their own reward. Encourage them to study things that interest them and help them with it. Do this so that they are constantly reminded that learning is actually fun.

    @John Lopez: I knew a kid like yours in high school. Absolutely driven… by his parents. They’d claim he wanted to do it. He even claimed he wanted to do it. Finished in the top few percent of his class. He ended up with a scholarship or two. Then we went to college. Freed from his parents he couldn’t cope. He drank his freshman year away and failed out. I had another friend, not top of his class, but driven by his parents and intelligent enough to get into a good university. His weakness turned out to MMOs (MUDs specifically; it’s been a while. :-). I believe he graduated, but I do know he failed at least a few classes.

    Some kids have that natural drive. Some don’t. Trying to get it out of a kid who doesn’t only pays off in the short term and can backfire. I suspect that is what the teachers are picking up on. Maybe they’re wrong. I wish your kid the best of luck.

  14. The end of capitalism as we know it is coming, technological disruption will force capitalism as we know it to change but what form the new economic system takes is anyones guess. You should all go read Joseph Schumpeter.

    Capitalism only works as long as their are enough well paying jobs to go around, as soon as that ends economic upheaval/political change is on the horizon.

    How we all forget that lots of people had to die over the last 100 years for their to be any middle class at all, you can all thank the left for that.

  15. Not to be too critical but it is very easy for someone without children to criticise. As a parent all you can do is give advise and protect your children but (from my own experiences) it depends on many external factors (peer pressure, attitude of parents AND teachers, social outlook, job prospects of local area, stigmatism of local area including racism or old boys network, etc).

    It’s also not worth pushing children too hard as you recommend. Do that and you risk the child going off the rails when they are let free of your over enthusiasm (I’ve seen this happen to so many, top graders at school and junkies within 2 years of leaving school).

    Having said that I do agree that children have to work much harder today just to stand still. I actively encourage my children to work hard (and show them that I work hard to achieve anything) but also encourage the social element which can help in career development.

  16. (psst your social media sharing icons don’t work. in chrome at least.)

    I really think Alan above nailed it pretty much on the head, inspire your children by setting a good example. It’s amazing how many kids I see emulating their parents, who in turn aren’t driven, inspiring, or honestly, that happy with their lives.

    As a second point, I’d point out that with the sum of human knowledge at their fingertips, the next generation is going to succeed or fail, not on the basis of who knows X or Y, but instead it’s the stuff that the educational system doesn’t teach & test, that’s going to make the difference. Analytical skills, problem solving, actual logic, creative thinking, scientific method and good communication skills are all topics that today’s schooling have pretty much had to abandon in order to train better standardized test taking skills. Until we start teaching a curriculum that make better minds, making students get better grades isn’t really helping them that much.

  17. Western school systems (at least the contemporary ones in Australia!) tend towards teaching critical thinking and deep understanding of concepts, Asian schooling – Japan in particular – rote learning. The former teaches why things are the way they are, but fewer of the concepts are coverable in the same amount of time; the latter simply teaches what things are, assumes importance and understanding and moves on.

    The Chinese Parenting that has been so popular in the current affairs media recently fits right into a collectivist rote learning framework, but fails miserably at socialising children or at producing people who can vote responsibly (not that the Western system produces many people who think critically about candidates, but it’s much more likely).

    The result is learned ignoramuses, as you’d expect. Japan is country mired in social, governmental, and fiscal conservatism with an unending economic slump and high unemployment.

    That said, I’ve never understood why we don’t have an economy in our world that can handle unemployment. We strive to develop the robots and AI that you mentioned, and they shouldn’t result in people being worse off, but instead being able to work less on the same standard of living. The net result for society should be better off. Instead we have unskilled workers laid off, unions who oppose technological advancement, and people who wrangle technology to make themselves personally more productive without working less.

    My conclusion, I suppose, is that we have inappropriate and ineffectual education systems across the board (in which everyone is an expert in how they should be run) and a wildly dysfunctional social order. Not necessarily students doing the wrong thing.

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