Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Russell Sprout Again: An Update

First, I want to say thanks to everyone for your sympathy over my dental ordeal of the past week. It isn’t quite right, but the antibiotics have kicked in and I am almost back to my old self.

Back in February, I did a couple of posts about Lu our youngest and her struggles to fit into a school system that didn’t cater for her advanced needs.

At the time I finished my second post on a quite upbeat note: Lu had finally after a long struggle become content enough with school to take it seriously.

Well all that has changed.

When I got home a couple of weeks ago Lu dropped a bombshell. “Dad, I’m leaving school.”

“You’re… what…?”

“Dad it’s OK.”

“What do you mean It’s OK, you’re sixteen. What about your future? What about university?”

Suddenly I was very afraid. I had dreaded this moment for a long time. Lu has hated and I mean HATED school for almost all of her short life. I’d often been concerned that she would simply drop out as soon as she was legally allowed.

But recently things had seemed much better for her. She wasn’t exactly enjoying school but she had come to tolerate it and see some value in where it was taking her.

“Dad it’s OK.”

“What do you mean, how can it be OK?”

Then a straw to clutch, I decide it is just her sense of humour and she is pulling my leg. “You’re teasing me aren’t you?”

“No Dad, I’m leaving school.”


“Dad let me finish.”

So I took a breath and let her finish.

Normally here in Victoria the senior years of high school (called Year 11 and Year 12 although they are actually the 12th and 13th years of school education) are spent doing the Victorian Certificate of Education which is how university places are allotted.

I should say a quick word about the Australian education system. After school age we don’t have a separate college system where you do a bachelors degree before going on to a university to do post-grad. Rather undergraduate degrees and post-graduate studies (like masters and PHD studies) all happen at the same universities.

So normally Lu’s path would be to finish the VCE and go on to enrol at one of the local universities based on her results.

But that is not what she is doing.

Now before you panic on her behalf (like I did), Lu has worked it all out.

Yes, she has left school. But she has harnessed her frustration and sidestepped the last two years of high school.

Here in Oz one thing education does well is open opportunities for people. There has been recognition that the traditional path doesn’t suit everyone.

One of the things that has stemmed out of this is Open University.

Lu has worked out that rather than continuing on at school she can enrol immediately with Open University.

Deb and I have agreed to her plan with a couple of provisos:
she has to do something to keep social contacts going (not content with standing still she has fixed this one already she has gone out and joined a group that are putting on a musical later in the year);
and if it doesn’t work out she will go back to high school next year (somehow I get the feeling that this agreement won’t be needed).

Lu’s plan at this point is to do a semester or two at Open Uni and work hard enough to get top level results then transfer over to Melbourne University as a regular undergrad (because the Open Uni courses are run by recognised Universities she will get credit toward the degree she does there).

There is no cost to us as parents. Ultimately Lu will pay through HECS (an interest free government scheme that will increase her tax slightly when she enters the workforce until the debt is repaid).

Lu has already enrolled in first year Maths, Chemistry and Biology units.
She has begun work on her Bachelor’s degree as I type this post. This very determined young woman has found a solution to her biggest problem. Who are we to stand in her way?

Now on a slightly calmer note a few piccies.

A couple of weeks ago we were driving along a back-road just on sunset.

Out in a paddock I noticed these two ruined grain silos being painted by the rich colours of the evening light.

This first piccie is taken over the grey timbers of an old stock-yard.A close up showing how rich the old bricks and stone looked in the sunset.Then just a minute or two later as the sun dipped below the valley walls they almost blend back into their surroundings.


Old Kitty said...

Oh well done that young lady!!!!! Lu is going to be ok! :-)

I can't say enough about Open University - it's a wonderful and most flexible and most amazing thing to be available - and I thoroughly recommend it! I've just about finished the writing course I am on at Open Uni and I've had a ball! It's been great.

Good luck to Lu! And good luck to you as parents too - you have a wonderful and independent and smart child there. You must be so proud and should be!

The pics of the ruined silos are amazing - they look very lonely and worn out against the sunset don't they? But they're still standing!

Take care

Kathleen Jones said...

Hi Al - as someone who insisted on leaving school (before my 16th birthday!) against all advice - I'm with Lu on this one. And provided you've got determination and back-up it doesn't stop you getting places. They're just more likely to be the places where you really wanted to go. I also tutor for the Open Uni here in Europe and I can really recommend it.
So, good luck to her!

Christine said...

Good luck to Lu as she continues her education.

Love the colour of the grey timbers on your first pic.

Kristen M. said...

I have a brother and a close family friend who both had a terrible time in the school system here in the U.S. Of course, our kids have to stay in until they are eighteen so they had no choice but to stay through grade 12 and both of them barely finished. Now it's a dozen or so years later and they both have technology jobs, families and own homes. I wish there could be more options for kids who just don't fit into the traditional system. I hope everything works out for Lu and cheers to her for figuring out on her own what might work for her!

Jemi Fraser said...

How nice to hear about an educational system that takes all kinds of learners into consideration! Good for Lu - sounds like she's got a great plan!

baileythebookworm said...

Determination is an important quality anywhere -it sounds like she has really thought out how she can get an education in a way that is most effective for her. Good deal. :) It's great that there's a system in place that supports that, too.

heidenkind said...

I really like the pictures of the silos!

I wanted to drop out of school when I was 17, too. But now I'm glad I didn't (it took me about 7 years to get to that point, though). I'm sure whatever your daughter decides to do, it will work out. :)

Rebecca E. said...

well, if it works, great good on her, I can say for a fact that i only found my niche after I went to a university I wanted to go to, and that seemed to elp alot she seems like a smart and deterined young lady.

Love the pictures, keep them coming.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm so impressed with your daughter! What a tremendous person she is to find a way to do all she needs/wants to do to further her goals and increase her life's enjoyment.

Those pictures, btw, are wonderful. I never thought of looking upon silos before as a thing of beauty. Thank you.

Julie Musil said...

The photos you posted are gorgeous!

I'm impressed that your daughter came to you with a well thought out plan. I think she's going to do just fine!

Culture Served Raw said...

Hey Al, Some more wonderful pictures. All the best to to Lu and with her grand plans!

Jem said...

What a great idea! I wish her well in her studies.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Lu is in the driver's seat of her life. Any time in my own experience that I chose my path and headed toward goals I'd set for myself, I succeeded on a grander scale than when I went through the motions of someone else's plan. Kudos to you and Deb for supporting her!

Gorgeous pics!

Lisa said...

That sounds like the perfect solution for Lu. Kudos to her for knowing that she would need a plan of action before presenting the idea of dropping out to you and Deb. This will put her more on a level with other people of her intelligence level--well, at least closer--which should make her much happier.

Al said...

Hi Jennifer,
Yes indeed, well done Lu!
Great to hear you have positive things to say about the UK version of Open Uni.
I am sure Lu will be fine, she is too bloody minded to accept anything less!
“Lonely and worn out..” a lovely turn of phrase.

Hi Kathleen,
I am surrounded by strong minded determined women. My mum, Deb, my girls all of them are forces to be reckoned with.
I certainly wasn’t going to stand in Lu’s way, especially as she had already worked out a solution to all the problems I could see before she even raised the issue with me. I think Lu sees Open Uni as a stepping stone, she thinks that a lot of the more technical stuff she wants to do later will be easier as an internal student.

Hi Christine,
Thank you!
I love the weathered look of the old timbers as well.

Hi Kristen,
Schools have some great aspects to them. But for kids a bit “out of the box” they can be a misery.
Currently kids can leave school at 16 in most states here in Oz (in one it is 15). There are moves afoot in Oz to keep kids in education until after 18 here too. However, I think our system will still be flexible enough to allow someone like Lu to follow her path as long as she can demonstrate she is participating in some form of education.
I guess she will be fine, she was even wondering if she could fit three years of study into two the other day.

Hi Jemi,
I suppose Aussies are so independent minded we need a flexible system :-)
Seriously, we have a real skills shortage her in Oz so governments have had a real incentive to encourage people to keep going with education and one of the tacks they have taken is to appeal to people who might otherwise not have gone on to higher education.
She certainly has she has worked out how to make “the system” work for her.

Hi Bailey,
I think you are absolutely right about the importance of determination.
She seems to have it all sorted out, and we are lucky about our education system.

Hi Tasha,
I am pleased things have worked out for you in the end!
I would certainly have opposed Lu dropping out if she hadn’t had an alternative plan.
She has always and I mean always said she wants to go to Uni. This way she has worked out to get where she wants earlier than normal.

Hi Rebecca,
I guess she is going to make it work for herself.
I loved the niches I found at Uni too :). She is determined and she is certainly smart enough to run rings around her dad!

Hi Kimberly,
I agree, wow! She is a great kid that is for sure!

Thank you! That is the beauty of light almost anything can be attractive (or at least interesting) if looked at the right way.

Hi Julie,
Welcome to my blog!
I was impressed too! She answered most of my questions before I even thought of them :-)

Hi Val,
Thank you about the pics!
And thank you for your wishes.

Hi Jem,
I agree it is a great idea!
Thank you!

Hi Nicole,
I have had a similar experience to you. When I have been motivated by something meaningful to me I have achieved my best.
Thank you and thank you about the pics!

Hi Lisa,
It does seem like the perfect solution for Lu.
She has been very clever, far cleverer than her old dad!
I know what you mean, the times she has been happiest have been when she was discussing ideas with people she could relate too.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Kudos to Lu! It sounds as if she's got it all together. I truly hope it works out--for all of you. :)

Walk Talk Tours said...

All the best for Lu. I wish her every success with her studies and her career. Hope it works out.

Al said...

Hi Alyssa,
I think our little Russell sprout has it pretty much "in hand".
Thank you.

Hi Phil,
Thanks mate, I appreciate the thoughts!