This year's high school harvest
FTLComm - Tisdale - Thursday, June 26, 2008

Today is high school graduation day in Tisdale and there were impressively dressed young people everywhere you looked this afternoon. For the graduates and their parents, indeed for their teachers from Kindergarten to grade twelve, today is an achievement and time for compliments to all involved. Each of us, in our time, have met the challenge of completing high school and I feel confident in saying that the task has definitely not become one least bit easier, as today's students have to master courses and conditions that generations before have not had to contend with, and on top of it all, this bunch have had to do their high school with a cell phone to one ear, thumbs poised for messaging and their iPod cued in their shirt pocket.

The sad facts are that this generation of graduates and those that will follow them, are faced with a need to cope with far more data and far less time to get things done. Long commutes to school eat into each child's day, to the point that homework, the buffer that teachers have traditionally used to deal with increased course content and the scarcity of class time, is no longer a viable option. Children and people of all ages are short of time, for unexplainable reasons, time for children has become so structured that they are universally over stressed. What's even more concerning is that they have so little free time to carry out the incidental learning that their curiousity would normally lead them to find out things that they want to know.

Our graduating students of today are moving into a world with which they are familiar, for indeed the biggest difficulty facing everyone who is not already retired is "time management." Time for physical activity, time to read, time to keep informed, time to communicate with others, time to communicate with one's self, time to upgrade one's skills, time to earn a living, time to juggle more than one job, time to be a person. . . . The mind boggles by the options and it is these options that most overwhelm the first year college student, the same options weigh down the second year student and in the next few years of college, a kind of numbness sets in, that the student wrongly assumes will vanish with college graduation. For indeed, we are in a time where college bound students should not be thinking about graduation, but about the long road to completely post grad degrees.

Just to put things in perspective, when I graduated from high school forty-six years ago gas was 42¢ a imperial gallon and today in Tisdale it is $5.56 a US gallon and my 1962 suit of clothing cost around $100, a movie was $2.00 and $7.50 today. A loaf of bread and a quart of milk was $1.00. The value of things change as does the value of money but comparatively speaking today's $1.95 litre of milk is probably a bargain.

It is comparativeness that is important because it is necessary to remember that difficult times come and we have to meet the challenge. In October 1962 our world came within a whisker of total thermo-nuclear war, two of my college room mates dropped out of college in October because they felt there was no point in continued when the world might end within days. But like today's booming economy the economy of my first year in college was pretty good, most of us in arts showed little concern about money our world was ideas and the excitement of the arts revolution of the sixties. How different that world is from this one with the pressing awareness of materialism and paying for that cell phone account.

But at issue is what is to become of this current crop of graduating people. The first and foremost thing that we need to be reminded is that they are far more in need of support than was the case with generations before them. If things are going to go well for these people we all need to pitch in support them in every way we can so that together we can make this a better world. Grade twelve is simply not enough for anything, a bachelor's programme is not enough for anything we need people with skills, knowledge and the ability to continue to learn with masters degrees and better if our society is going to handle the upheavals that look to be shaping up.

We could be looking at an impending recession/depression brought about by foolish United States economic policies and climatic changes that could very well turn life as we know it inside out.

You don't plant flowers and expect them to look after themselves so to you don't graduate students from high school and think your job is done.

Timothy W. Shire

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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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