As news breaks about who managed to get top spot regarding the TCE (ATAR) scores in Tasmania I think it is worth reflecting on the language that we use and what does it really mean. What message are we conveying and how is this deeply entrenched in our culture. As Tasmania moves forward to embrace the notion of lifelong learning (and keep in mind some would suggest we are natural lifelong learners and I would strongly support this stance), entrenched culture cannot be ignored.
We bandy around the notion of lifelong learning, but what is lifelong learning? What does it look like? Is there one type of learning that is deemed more important than another? What is the difference between education and learning? Does all learning need to be cemented in formal institutions? These questions flow through my head as I read the statement at the bottom of this news article http://www.examiner.com.au/story/3597721/top-students-happy-to-get-their-tce-scores/
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff sent his congratulations to every student who was successful in attaining their TCE. “For those who didn’t go as well as they hoped there are always more opportunities to continue their education and get set up for the exciting, challenging and varied futures they have ahead of them.”
A huge amount of importance is put upon that TCE result, entering university straight after and getting that degree, then the job. But is that where it ends? Is a degree about learning, or about getting a job? If learning is all about getting a job what does this really mean? If education and learning is just an input for economic outcomes what does that mean? If one didn’t succeed regarding their TCE, is the only option to continue education in the current system? What does that really look like for someone who doesn’t ‘fit the mould’? The words “lifelong learning” surely mean more than getting a job and surely mean more than supporting economic outcomes. Maybe that is the key, maybe we need to look beyond the notion of job and consider passion and interest, consider the whole person. Being internally motivated is so different to being externally motivated or not being motivated at all, it brings about different attitudes and actions in the learning process.
Tasmanian young people are engaging in formal education longer than one or two generations before them. Yet still there is a struggle for some to remain in the formal space of learning to the required aged of 17. What really needs to change to support engagement in learning in this space? Is it community values? Is it something else? Is it the options provided to our young people? Are the current offerings requiring significant change, beyond what is already being explored?
Not everyone ‘fits the mould’ but this doesn’t mean you cannot have success. Success is about achievement, developing an aim, and your aim should be determined by you, not be enforced by others. Life is a continual journey of learning as we adapt to the world that we are in and the challenges it throws at us. How do you recover from an ATAR in the 40s or 50s? Very well, actually .