Monday 13 June 2022

Careers Syndromes Part Seven: Back to the Future

Part One.
Part Two.
Part Three.
Part Four.
Part Five.
Part Six.
Part Seven.
Part Eight.
Part Nine.
Part Ten.

Why does anybody persist in fighting the last war, training people for professions that are dying out or have gone completely, preparing children for a world that’s disappeared, or to run an empire that no longer exists? 

You could tell, though, even in my day, that you were living in a culture that simply wasn’t going to survive. This was an environment balanced weirdly between antiquity and modernity. (Hugo Rifkind on public schools, Times Nov 2 2013)

You may have to wait for a generation to retire (or die) before you can close down the courses that teach students to write “modern” music, or update the style book, or accept the findings and rewrite the textbook, or junk the theory/method, or start using the technology, or throw out outdated practices or...

You bore on about handwriting (schoolchildren should learn neat handwriting, you only remember things if you write them on paper, laptops should be banned from lectures) 30 years after computers entered our lives. At the same time, you neglect to teach schoolchildren to touchtype in a world where most jobs are done through a computer keyboard. (Think about it! Productivity would soar!) You suggest children learn calligraphy, preparing them to become copying clerks, a job that disappeared about 150 years ago. See Charles Dickens characters learning “law hand”. 

For constitutional reasons South Korea still has government departments pretending to run North Korean provinces. (Cal Flyn, author of Islands of Abandonment)

[A Noel Streatfeild character] speaks very eloquently about the waste of giving acting or dance training to many young women for many years when only a small proportion of them can ever succeed. She says she wishes someone had warned her of that possibility. (

Persuade kids to waste three or four years getting meaningless qualifications because it’ll “get them a better job in the end”. Who benefits? Society, because the students are removed from the job market, and from unemployment statistics. The colleges and teachers and examiners, who want to keep in business. Meanwhile young people study sports massage for three years and end up as a plasterer.

Often, only the trainers can make a living from the activity. Massage tutors persuaded us to buy massage tables and taught us how to design A5 fliers – in the era of the internet. They also insisted you could carry a folding massage table to appointments. (You’d need a car.)

Writers: don't trust those who are still advising you to submit manuscripts typed double-spaced on A4 paper with two spaces after a full stop. Send your piece in as an email attachment, with one space after each full stop. And please, please, please turn on curly quotes in Word before you start. They can't be changed retrospectively and each inch mark (') has to be replaced by hand.

See “writing” schools, chiropractic schools, trainers of choir leaders, teachers of yoga teachers…

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