The following article featured in the Kilmore Free Press, Wednesday 22 December 1982, page 8.
Were you present? Did the Headmaster’s address impact on your life? Did he give good advice? Does it apply today? Did you enjoy your time at Kilmore’s Assumption College? What do others think?
Tough times … young people need to be resourceful and adaptive
Times are indeed tough for our young people, and they need to be resourceful and adaptive, while not becoming a “Jack of all trades and master of none”, Assumption College Headmaster, Brother Seamus O’Grady, said at the school’s annual speech day and prize-giving.
“The 90th year of the college’s existence has witnessed new developments in buildings, curriculum and student responsibilities. These are things that give us all much satisfaction, a feeling that the college is progressing, that it is adapting to meet the changing needs of our students and the society into which they must enter.
“But the life of the college has to be seen against the background of the world of the 80’s. An education that isolates itself from the context of its own society runs the risk of becoming increasingly irrelevant to the young people we serve.
“The gloom of recession hangs over our country, unemployment is taken for granted, even the drought has contributed to lowering our collective morale.
“Times are indeed tough for our young people. They need an education to at least year 11, which in turn can no longer be narrowly academic. “Career choosing” is the preserve of the intellectual elite. For most it is a question of adapting to what is available, rather than what they feel best suited for.
Security Not There
“Here you noticed how the term ‘dole bludger’ has dropped from our vocabulary and has been replaced by terms like ‘retrenchment’, ‘early retirement’, ‘job-creation’? Security is simply not available to many people.
“How does the school respond to this situation? On the one hand, it must to some extent shield its young ones from these harsh realities, to give them time to grow physically, mentally, emotionally … to give then an all too short space for being adolescent.
“With no time to dream visions of the future, our youth become too quickly disillusioned and disappearing. Small wonder that so many seek to live only for the present, indulge in drugs that numb the mind from reality.
On the other hand, school must gradually expose them to the complexities of life, the ambiguities of a society with which they must come to terms. This is no east task. It is a lot simpler to concentrate on reading, writing and arithmetic as some naive commentators claim to be the major function of a school.
“what advice can I give you parents? For a start, if you are comfortably secure, why not in a real spirit of Christian caring create jobs for young people? Give the young a chance to be productive. It will only cost you money!
“Secondly, be on guard against ‘single-issue education’, an education which focuses on only one aspect of the student’s development. A too narrow academic education – in itself no guarantee of adequate employment – may neglect the emotional and social aspects of human development, and produce a distorted human being incapable of entering a loving relationship.
“I am not suggesting that everyone should be a ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’, but, rather, that our young people need to be resourceful and adaptive.
Dignity and Value
“They are living in a world which regards change and new directions as commonplace in the human condition. Teachers and parents, drawing on experience and wisdom, need to ensure a balanced education is provided for the young people who are entering a society where survival may require a lot more than a job.
“ All activities that we enjoin on them should lead to a renewed sense of their own dignity and value, a quiet self-confidence, a warmth of character, and, importantly, a sense of humour. I guess Christ is still the best model of man to offer to young people.
“So schools and parents have to adapt. Caring for our young people requires a vision that are valuable beyond their productivity. We have to make greater efforts to discern their needs, capabilities and skills, to develop courses that address these needs, to work more closely with them as they move from the world of school to the world of work”, Brother Seamus said.