I was asked by the good folk at STEM to be an advisor for the day at my old school recently.
Just so you know STEM is short for Science Technology Engineering and Maths, woooooo…
I am a STEM ambassador – the role is to act as a mentor and inspire young people to take an early interest in technology subjects with a view to aspiring to Science, Engineering or Technical related careers.
My old school is in Paisley, Scotland. I was last a student there in 1981. OK I know a long time ago but I’m wearing well.
30 or so years experience in engineering should stand me in good stead for my visit!
The purpose of the “gig” was to answer questions from pupils in 2nd year who are thinking about their choices as they move into 3rd year and towards formal examination.
The day started at 9am – there were about 10 other advisors there from a mixed backgrounds – builders, scientists, engineers, recruitment, retail. We all sat at desks around the common area in the school with say 10 chairs facing us. The children were invited to sit in front of us and after each 10 minute session went round the room in an organised runaround taking it in turn to seek advice from each advisor.
The head organiser started proceedings and the questions started.
Interested themes emerged, questions like: what do you do, whats your job, what qualifications do you have, what subjects did you take at school, what school did you go to, do you know my uncle, how much money do you earn, do you enjoy what you do, is it fun, is it easy… There were more.
Some groups were better than others and individual engagement and attitudes varied from being cocky and smart to disintersted.
I would say a high majority of children did not have a clue what they wanted to do when they lest school, didn’t know what subjects to take, what opportunities were open to them. I seen a lot of dead eyes, no interest at all, even in being there that day, waste of their time – some were very focussed though – this was the minority.
I can only reflect on my experiences and my time at the same stage in school – I wanted to be an engineering draughtsman, I knew what subjects I needed to take and pass to give me the best chance of achieving that. I was encouraged at home too.
Maybe times have changed and opportunities are less, I dont know, hoping though I may have left a positive thought in some of the children that they can do what they want if they put their mind to it.