School’s Out

Written by Amy Farr

Amy is the founder of Loft, a nifty little Auckland based agency. Embarrassingly excitable, and with a real passion for the recruitment industry, Amy brings energy and warmth to the recruitment process. Lover of 80's power ballads, coffee, and days at the beach, and fancies herself as a bit of a gypsy.

It’s me with my retro and only vaguely relevant musical references again. This time I’m feeling inspired by the wise words of Alice Cooper.

No More Pencils No More Books

I’m really interested in the topic of the current mainstream school system, and whether it is setting our kids up for success in the future workforce. I myself LOVED school. Those primary school years were some of the best of my life. I ran around with my friends at lunchtime being a unicorn, I was passionately in love with my kindly teachers, we were always creating amazing artworks or singing, or doing PE, and I soaked up learning like the proverbial sponge. Oh and story time! Man, I LOVED story time.

Overall I enjoyed high school, although it was tricky navigating the minefield of hormones and teenage politics. But during this time of my life, as well as the constant embarrassment, there was a lot of boredom.

Hours of lessons, heck years of lessons that I sat through, but wasn’t engaged in.

Chatting to mates, doodling or dozing through Religious Education, Maths, Physics *snore*.

When I think on it, we see the same thing in the workplace all the time, when people are in the wrong role, or working under a crappy manager. The lessons I did enjoy – Business Studies, English Literature, Drama; where I had a great teacher and a subject I was really interested in – I was on fire. Just like in my career, when I’ve been in the right role with the right manager/team.

I honestly don’t remember any of the five years of French that were forced on me.

‘Je m’appelle Amy, j’habite á Macclesfield’.

That’s about it (and I just Googled the correct spelling of je m’appelle).

What if those two hours spent in French class each week for five years had been channeled into something I was really passionate about, wouldn’t that have been a better use of everyone’s time and energy? Add in the hours I wasted on my other most hated subjects, and I potentially could have left high school exceptionally skilled in a few key areas that I was passionate about.

Instead I came away above average in a couple of subjects and average in many.

My school’s been blown to pieces

I didn’t go to Uni by the way.


By the time I left high school I was already working 3 jobs and was getting a taste for the mullah. Compared to my mates I was positively loaded. I bought River Island clothes with my own money.

At 15 years old I was paying rent to my mum and buying my own school uniform.

At 17 when I finished college the option to earn a full time wage was just too tempting for me, and the thought of sitting in lectures for another three years was too painful. I can honestly say NOT having that degree has never held me back, in-fact those years of work experience I was gaining whilst my mates were getting drunk and living in student accommodation (gross) were invaluable.

By the time I was 20 I was leading a team of five, with a couple of them being in their forties. I developed an immense work ethic.  Today I run my own business. No degree required. Many of my mentors in recruitment didn’t have a degree either, and have enjoyed wild success as entrepreneurs and business owners.

My own children are home schooled. Yes I know, controversial choice! It was a decision we agonised over. It’s a phenomenal responsibility.

And home schooled kids are weird.

There were a couple of major factors that started us on our path to homeschooling. Firstly my eldest son is dyslexic, and the mainstream system just isn’t set up for kids who don’t fit into the box. But in the future workplace, outside of the box is a rad place to be!

The way my 9 year old thinks and is able to look at things differently is the very reason I know he will be successful in work. But at school he was failing. The teachers didn’t have a clue what to do with him. They were shackled by the curriculum, and they just didn’t have the time to focus on him.

The second factor is that my husband and I believe children (and adults) learn best when they want to learn, and are interested in the subject matter. You know yourself, when you are forced to do something you are much less likely to go all-in then than when you are doing something out of choice.

I think forcing kids to sit through hours of lessons on subjects they are not interested in is a complete waste of everyone’s time. They will forget it.

How much of what you learned at school do you use today do you reckon?

The current school system was set up during war time, and was basically a way to control the masses. In order to prepare our kids for the future workforce, we need to teach them how to stand out from the masses. With all the jobs that are reportedly going to be lost to robots our kids are going to need to be as unrobotlike as possible.

School’s out completely

Collaboration, project management, creativity, sales, communication, resilience, money management; these are the sorts of classes we should be sending our kids to!

The University Degree and all of the debt that comes with it is a bloody waste in many cases. So many twenty-somethings finish their degree totally unprepared for the workforce, and often end up in a role that has nothing at all to do with their chosen avenue of study. Personally I love the idea of ‘micro-credentials’. Bite size chunks of learning that you can complete alongside your job. Meaning you only need to tap into bits that are really relevant to your current role or chosen career path.

Obviously trickier with some roles then others (please give me a properly qualified surgeon), but totally doable for many.

In this constantly evolving world that we live in we all need to be flexible, life-long learners, and organisations who promote this and provide genuine learning opportunities for their employees really stand out from the crowd in my view.

In the Recruitment industry it’s so easy to get bogged down in the daily cut and thrust and not take the time out to attend training, but the right training, in something that you are interested in, can be SO beneficial.

I wonder if we could move away from the regimen and constant race that is the current school system, and instead focus on developing in our kids real life skills and a passion for life- long learning, wouldn’t we be better setting them up for success? After all, the workplace is becoming less regimented. We are going to see freelancing, entrepreneurship and contracting becoming more and more the ‘norm’. It makes sense that we need to look at how we are preparing our whipper-snappers for this more flexible and creative landscape.

You May Also Like…

Share This