Laura McInerney frets about the rich, doomed to lack empathy:
A recent press release, sent by a group promoting the government’s policies, (Ed: do you ever see this clarification on a progressive lobby group’s report?)bemoaned the inequities of modern state schooling by pointing out two facts. One: almost half the pupils studying health and social care at GCSE come from schools in the poorest areas. Two: about half the pupils studying advanced science GCSEs come from schools with wealthier intakes.
The implied conclusion: what horror! We are condemning poor children to a life of lifting elderly people while rich kids swish about in laboratories.
But a different thought struck me. Wouldn’t it be more worrying if no one was studying health and social care? And why don’t we worry that more rich kids aren’t doing it?
Because ‘rich kids’ usually want to remain so, and maybe even get richer in the future. If they aren’t throwing themselves at ‘social care’ careers, there’s usually a good reason.
The skills involved in caring for an elderly person with dementia, or a child with a disability, are not to be sniffed at. It’s not only kindness that is needed. How many of us could argue with a terminally ill 85-year-old over her right (or not) to smoke in sheltered accommodation?
Maybe none of us would think that relevant, frankly? Maybe we would think it cruel to force a dying person to conform to progressive ‘health’ policies, and so deprive them of a last pleasure.
If this is the sort of thing that ‘social care studies’ teaches you, perhaps the fewer people that take it, the better…
…it feels instinctively wrong that society’s need for care workers is being resolved only by poor kids doing a subject the wealthy have eschewed. I question whether it’s the schools in poor areas that are really in the wrong.
They are doing the best they can for pupils who will need skills to earn a living, without having to say ‘Do you want fries with that?’.
A student of mine who desperately wanted to be a hairdresser taught me an important lesson. Her parents, who had moved from Poland to give her “a better life”, were dead against it. The school, knowing she could achieve well academically, felt the same. I agreed – until I asked her: “Why hairdressing?”
“People around here have little money,” she said, “but with water, hot air and a brush I can make them feel like a superstar. Even if you are poor. If you have nothing. I take water – just water – and a brush, and make you feel better about yourself. How can I not do that?”
No problem at all. If that’s what you want to do. But don’t then start whinging that you can’t earn as much as a doctor or lawyer!
If you think that how people feel is the most important thing you can do for them, then fine, but frankly, getting them practical, physical remedies might be more use…
In the end, the question is actually whether any pupil should be studying health and social care – wealthy or poor. It seems a shame there isn’t room for all children to study at least one subject that broadens their scope beyond academia. Why not have all of them take one vocational option, to see the world through a different lens? Or are the wealthy really that afraid of learning how to care?
No. They are simply afraid that their children will starve if they adopt this wishy-washy feelings-led career path, while everyone else’s kids learn science, and get good jobs.