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Architecture as a career, which GCSEs to concentrate on?

Discussion in 'off topic' started by Rob998, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    It was, but one thing hasn't changed. Martin still goes to work and plays with Lego.
  2. Mullardman

    Mullardman Moderately extreme...

    A number of assorted observations arising from this thread.. in no particular order and no criticism of other posters implied.

    -Drawing. My daughter the designer drew amazingly from pre school age. Even then, when she might not have drawn 'realistically', she had what I can only describe as a 'way of seeing'..and of expressing what she saw, which was very different to most. Fast forward to her HE days and she railed constantly about fellow students who 'couldn't draw water' and in her opinion were not worthy. I'm not sure what the admission tutors looked for, but I did try to defuse the situation in her mind by emphasising that she was on a design course, with all it entailed, not an illustration, or fine art course, and in any case she should concentrate on her own efforts not on worrying about others. She did well enough. A 2:1 and her final collection professionally modelled on the catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week.

    --Rob's daughter has not yet even made her 'options' choices. She may stick with her idea, she may change her mind. Nothing wrong with either, but there's a third scenario in which she sticks with her idea even though something should set alarm bells ringing. I'm not predicting the future, but in true Careers Adviser fashion, trying to pre-warn of possible pitfalls traps etc. Reading between the lines but acknowledging limited info. This could be behind robert_cyrus 'biggest regret'. My own biggest regret is that I was obsessed with becoming an analytical chemist because of what was on reflection.. an interest in 'schoolboy' chemistry. I was crap at maths and I knew it. I was advised that this would likely limit my prospects, but ignored the advice. I persisted, with predictable results. I just wish my school had something other than a teacher with a 'careers' hat on, someone who might have picked up on my genuine strengths and encouraged me to explore possible other options. I doubt I'd have listened, but at least I wouldn't then have that nagging 'what if?..

    This of course is fundamental to the 'professional' /'client' relationship, whether it be hi fi salesman/to 'punter', Doctor/patient, Careers adviser/student etc., etc. The listening and questioning, in order to agree the issue(s) leadng to the professional input, then the negotiation/agreement of a way forward,..well matched system on budget, treatment plan, set of drawings or whatever.

    Wholeheartedly agree and it's true that the same can be said of many other degrees too.. controversially perhaps, including many of those degree courses which are today labelled by the terminally unimaginative as 'obscure', 'irrelevant', or even 'non' degrees.

    Reminded me of a description of the much loved former head of my Grammar School. 'A boy could leave High Pavement with a top Oxbridge Scholarship, but he was a failure in his Headmaster's eyes if he wasn't interested in music, art, architecture, the theatre, books, the sciences, politics, girls, family and neighborhood and the rest of mankind.' I think we can skip over the 'girls' comment given the vintage of the piece.

    Agreed. Though when I was last involded ISTR that the room for manoeuvre on Option Choice was quite limited by the demands of the curriculum. I do however find myself wondering as to the nature of the 'Careers Talks' that are planned and would be interested in any feedback you can give.

    Spot on.

    I was considering giving a blow by blow account of the way I delivered my class/groupwork around Careers, to the whole of my school(s), but I'll reduce it to.. Starting in year 9 with Option Choice and progressing though each year covering areas such as 'decision making', 'self awareness' and going on to talk about 'levels' of employment.. from unskilled up to the 'higher' professions, and trying to instill some grasp of the structure of the employment market, and crucially an understanding of academic levels and the structure post 16 education/training routes etc. This was delivered as 'interactively' as possible, through question and answer stuff, quizzes, games etc., and generally was well received. They may not all have absorbed everything and of course kids are notorious for only listening to what they want to hear.. but they certainly couldn't claim 'Nobody told me'. The net result was that most of them arrived for 1:1 interviews in Year 11 with some idea of what needed to be discussed, weighed and decided.

    Fast forward a decade or so until the destructive effects of Blunkett's 'reforms' had reduced 'Careers' to a dirty word.. barely spoken in Connexions circles and barely delivered in schools. We were still required to offer a 1:1 guidance interview with each year 11 pupil, though this was very much targeted and prioritised towards the less able. A very poor decision in my view, based upon the erroneous assumption that 'bright' kids somehow know by osmosis, all the stuff they need to know to make informed decisions about their future. Either way, the lack of group/class input by us (because we were actively prevented from delivering it) was clearly creating a cohort of Year 11 students who were completely clueless about the world beyond school, so I felt obliged to 'force' something. It took me weeks to negotiate access to the Year 10 students in my school and only then for a single session of around 30 minutes during their 'Form Tutor Time' first thing. This was an 11-16 school in a less than priveleged area of Merseyside.

    It came down to this:

    "Right class. (introduce myself.. the Connexions Service, explain our function, office locations, etc etc. and explain system of 1:1 Guidance interviews in Year 11)"

    "So, I've got less than 30 minutes to try to give you some info but more importantly to get you to ask yourself a lot of questions. I don't know any of you but what I do know is that every one of you will leave this school next June. That much is certain." ( 11-16 school)

    "It follows that after you leave school you will all do something different, so let's talk about the sort of things some of you might do Anybody.. hands up please, what are you going to do when you leave school?"

    General mutterings of 'Drug Dealer'.. 'Go on the dole..' etc. then a hand goes up

    " I'm going to college".
    "Excellent.. to study what?"
    " Then you need to think about that don't you?.. where will you go to college why will you go to college??
    "Right just as an example, you are going to study Catering.. to be a Chef.. OK? Just an example.."
    "Where can you do that?"
    "Then you need to find out don't you?"
    "Right .. nearest college offering catering is.. XXXXX", but you could have found that info online or in the library...

    But.. class.. are you getting my point? You need to be thinking about this stuff now.. You've spent your lives so far being pretty much told what to, from now on you need to start thinking for yourselves. etc...

    It went on in that vein for 30 minutes, with me effectively having to be quite brutal in exposing their ignorance, in an effort to get them, thinking and asking questions. But more worryingly, this exposed the appalling lack of knowledge which resulted from Blunkett's insistence of focussing all efforts on the unemployeed and 'NEET' groups, whilst failing to see that many would not be in that group if properly coached and guided before that situation arose. It's the very same 'chicken and egg' debate which lies at the root of arguments for and against State intervention.

    I sincerely hope the situation has improved. I seriously doubt it.

  3. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    As I’ve said before the careers “advice” at the school I attended was in the chocolate teapot level of usefulness. IIRC the random blurt who appeared from I know not where to dispense wisdom suggested I become an ‘office clerk’ or something equally absurd. It was a waste of everyone’s time, especially mine. I guess the advantage teachers wearing ‘careers hats’ have is they at least know the students very, very well, both on an academic and personal level. The careers advice I remember was some total stranger turning up who seemed to know nothing about anything, and certainly wouldn’t have figured someone like me out in the very short time available (I really only ever wanted to drop-out and live in the counter-culture, I had no interest in the conventional world of work at all!). I ended up being a psychiatric nurse for a while, and no one, least of all me, saw that coming!
  4. Mullardman

    Mullardman Moderately extreme...

    Yes Tony, you have told us that before, but it is one example coming from someone who admits to rejecting formal education at the time. I'm not going to speculate on your encounter with a 'random blurt', but whatever your memory of events at the time, you are describing one encounter. I notched up many thousands over 30 years and followed up most of my caseload from year 9, to year 11, 12 or 13 and often much further.
    You seem determined to dismiss the entire reality and history of careers guidance based on your single encounter with someone who remains unidentified, as part of an education in which you have proudly confessed unwillingness to participate. I'm not sure its a useful or relevant example. In the past you claimed that teachers could be trained up to do Careers work 'in a couple of months'. Not only did this betray your fundamental misunderstanding of the role, but I went on to demolish your argument piece by piece.
    I still have the text..
  5. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    You may have thought you did, though I certainly can’t recall acknowledging that victory! It was all but useless back then (I was far from an isolated voice in thinking it was a waste of time) and it is unquestionably an obsolete role now as there is so much more real career information within a quick google search than you could ever hope to know or retain. A response such as the ones upthread here from industry professionals is worth infinitely more than someone who can never hope to know much about either the specific student or the career in question. This stuff is all accessible pretty much instantly these days. In these cost-cut times state ‘careers advice’ was unquestionably the right thing to lose IMO. Far better that than any real teachers or subjects.
  6. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    I think its all been said, but
    at this stage, keep it broad. Art (but check that the department does lot's of drawing), seperate sciences, maths and any other well respected subjects that they like. English Lit/History/Economics/Languages.
    At A level, you probably need to decide if this is engineering/architecture or art/architecture (there are courses that specialise at both extremes and everything in between). The course tutors will want you more if you know what YOU want. In either case, a portfolio of excellent drawing, lots of reading and research into the subject and Maths, and either or both of Physics and Chemistry chosen by deciding which will produce the higher grades. Art isn't totally vital as an A level, but a portfolio of imaginative, skilled work is.
    Rob998 likes this.
  7. Mullardman

    Mullardman Moderately extreme...

    It isn't about just 'knowing' or 'retaining' 'real Careers info'. It is about understanding and exploring processes and routes. I'm frankly getting sick of trying to explain this to people. Also, you will, if you stop just having a go at me, notice that I acknowledged the excellent contributions above. However, not everyone has access to fora or cohorts of well educated people such as exist on PFM. This is a real issue. Information has always been available, from both libraries and organisations etc.,.. since long before the internet. Giving people the wherewithall, the skills, the confidence etc., to access it is a part of the Careers Education and Guidance process.

    Guidance online just does not work. It is an interactive 1:1 process of communication which demands face to face proximity.

    As I said. I have the text.


    There does appear to have finally been some realisation on the part of Govt of what everybody with any real knowledge already knew. That the wreckage left by Blunkett, Milburn and Gove.. especially the latter, was not sufficient or fit for purpose.
    So, the Govt has finally, after eight years , begun to re-invent the wheel, though I'm far from convinced that it will be round...

  8. Alex S

    Alex S pfm Member

    A 13 year old who wants to be an architect may not when she’s 16. I would advise her to do whatever GCSEs she wants and to do well enough in them to pick useful A levels for a path she may by then have chosen.

    You’re lucky though. My girls aspire to Love Island (but not as designers of the villa).
    Rob998 likes this.
  9. Rob998

    Rob998 Scimmia Nordoccidentale

    I know there's loads of time for her to change her mind, and quite frankly I wouldn't be at all surprised if she did, not that she's flighty or anything, just young and only just exploring the options that her intelligence and hard work will open up for her, but I wanted to present her with some real world advice so she has a little more perspective.

    As to what triggered this interest in Architecture, I finally asked her when I got home from work, and it turns out when we visited Rotterdam a couple of years ago, she loved the Market Hall.

    Rockmeister and gintonic like this.
  10. Alex S

    Alex S pfm Member

    Rotterdam has a lot of cool stuff. Good luck to her.
  11. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    When I was about 5 I wanted to be a zoologist, pronounced zoo lodge ist. That I changed my mind isn't important, but I was always interested in science and nature. I became interested in how things were made, so food manufacturing and science is a pretty good fit. A girl interested in building s may later be interested in design, construction, engineering or town planning and the built environment. It's all good, the more understanding she has of the world the better her chances of working out what she wants to do in it.
  12. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    Rotterdam.. has a lot of big-canvas, but often really vacuuous new stuff, some historic, very interesting but small-scale things - and a yawning chasm in between, called WW2, which sadly, dreadfully, razed the place. Exactly the sort of thing archi-types think about.

    Good example of my last post about nurturing interest, whichever way Rob's daughter's interests develop.
  13. Rob998

    Rob998 Scimmia Nordoccidentale

    @stevec67, up to a while back, she wanted to be a vet, like an awful lot of young girls I suppose, had done since about year 5. She's certainly smart enough to achieve it, and I did some footwork for her, suggested a study path and even a way for her to get qualified without incurring any debt (UOTC, then Short Service Commission in the RAVC) .

    Somehow I knew she would change her mind, something about how she'd only watch The Supervet, but was squeamish about other less glamorous vet stuff.

    She's going to do well at whatever she ends up doing, I just want her to end up doing something she enjoys .
  14. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger


    PS that market hall is fun; might your daughter have an interest in photography as-yet unexplored? Like drawing, it's another way of seeing...




    Rob998 likes this.
  15. gintonic

    gintonic 50 shades of grey pussy cats

    So so important this. I have spent many an hour at University open days convincing parents this is really important. Alongside being happy and comfortable at you place of study......often way more important that ranking lists and league table positions.
    Mullardman likes this.
  16. Rob998

    Rob998 Scimmia Nordoccidentale

    We're off back there in the summer, plus Amsterdam and possibly The Hague. Any suggestions as to any interesting stuff to show her? I get the feeling she likes the more modern stuff.

    I did consider taking her around Skelmersdale to show her what I consider to be a poor example of the built environment, but not quite sure how to pitch it...
  17. Spike

    Spike pfm Member

    No offence Mull as a pupil, similar age to Tony, career guidance by a teacher or Career expert was pants. Yes they knew their stuff but... As a teacher for that last 25 years I've seen huge changes in career Guidance to the point its almost none existence. It's made no difference in my opinion.
  18. Rob998

    Rob998 Scimmia Nordoccidentale

    Wrt the careers advice stuff...

    My school had a Careers Teacher: Mr Kirwan, who actually was pretty cool, but his primary job was an English teacher.

    Anyway, in 1985, in the 5th year of high school (possibly a year or so late, considering) we had a big careers event thingy. We had to fill in a massive form, the data from which would be fed into a, *hushed tones*, computer!

    The computer would tell us what we were going to be. For. The. Rest. Of. Our. Lives.

    So, the 15 yr old, music obsessed, me filled out the massive form.

    A few weeks later we got a big white envelope and we all went into the canteen to open them.

    I was going to be a (drum roll....) : "Musical Instrument Technician" or "Recording Engineering Technician". ****ing ace!!! Where do I sign up?

    That was it, no advice on study paths, which FE colleges offered suitable courses, or anything.

    I ended up mostly being a civil servant...

  19. Mullardman

    Mullardman Moderately extreme...

    But what? A rather contradictory statement don't you think?

    And you base your opinion on what exactly? Do you personally follow up all of your students? Do you know what happens to them? I do hope you don't teach English. No offence Spike..

    Worth a pause there. This does not tell us what Mr Kirwan actually did re: Careers. IMHO, the best 'Careers Teachers' organised and facilitated the work of the independent outside Careers Advisers, as well as organising 'Careers Fairs', 'Industry visits etc., or whatever. As you say,, his primary job was English Teacher. this won't have left him much time for doing any serious in depth career guidance, even if he was equipped to do so.. which, believe me, even the best teachers mostly weren't

    I strongly suspect it was actually the following year. First year of 6th. It sounds very much like what was at a time a very sophisticated Career Guidance tool called 'CASCAID' ( Careers Advisory Service Computer Aid) It basically compared your A level choice, your GCSE results and your Occupational Interests to potential HE and post grad career options. Its main purpose was as the basis for a discussion with a Careers Adviser. So, amongst other things, e.g, it would pick up on inconsistencies between your career aspirations and your qualifications, or proposed HE choice. You Adviser should then have fed back the results to you and discussed them. It was an excellent, if rather unweildy way of bringing a huge numnber of factors to play in the discussion. If I recall correctly, it was originally developed by a unit of Leicestershire Careers Service.. but don't hold me to that. I've said this many times on here but my older daughter was 'administered' said test at her school and complained endlessly to me that one of the suggested (NOTE:..Suggested for consideration. Not written in stone.) Occupations was 'Fish Farm Manager'. So, despite me pointing out that the thing also came up with Linguist, Translator, Interpreter, Foreign Language Teacher etc, etc. (She was a Linguist and did a degree in Languages) she still clings to that criticism.

    It seems she's not the only one with a selective memory...

    It. Most. Definitely. Would. Not. No guidance tool or psychometric test used by the Careers Service was everintended to be used in isolation. Nor was it seen as giving a fixed immovable answer, as opposed to a basis for discussion. I suspect you either misunderstood, or were misinformed, and I'm not taking the flak for anything done by anyone else.

    No follow up interview? If that's true it was most likely down to your school. Nobody in the Careers Service would administer CASCAID that way. It's pointless. Was yours a private school by any chance?

    Did you ask?.... You've been told you can consider being a Musical whatever and you don't pursue it? Whose fault is that? Music and many other 'artistic' careers are essentially talent based. There is no fixed A-B pathway.. much depends on determination, luck, and sheer poorly paid slog. I'd have told you that, fer nowt.

    Another possibility is that your school kept you and other potential Sixth Form students well away from the Careers Service. Many such schools really didn't like the idea that their 'best' pupils might be made aware of comparable, or even better Post 16 options than they were offering. 6th Form Students = Money.

    Is that my fault too?
  20. Rob998

    Rob998 Scimmia Nordoccidentale

    I'm certain Mr Kirwan tried his best, but as you allude to, he wasn't given enough time or resources for the careers bit.

    Was definitely 5th year senior, my school didn't have a 6th Form. Was also definitely before I took my O' Levels, although after I'd made my choices. CASCAID rings a bell.

    That's how I remember (or mis-remember)it being sold to us kids.

    Thinking back, there was a brief meeting but iirc, it went along the lines of "There's no chance of you getting on a course for that, there's too much competition..."

    Not a chance, former Grammar, converted to Comprehensive the year before I went there.

    Of course, but probably didn't press the issue hard enough and accepted what I was told.

    Again, no 6th form at my school, so unless he was on commission from Cronton...

    No Mull, you were in the next door LEA to me...;)

    I actually enjoyed my, truncated, career at the MoD. I actually felt I was doing something worthwhile and the work was mostly interesting, decently paid and I got to experience some amazing stuff. I was gutted to be made redundant as a result of a Strategic Defence Review.

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