Difficult Conversations – Late-teenagers

Submitted by Grenville Phillips

Since we all learn new things through a process of failure, we are normally at our least responsible time as late-teenagers.  That is when we transition from being dependent children into adults.  As children, our parents were mostly responsible for our actions.  As adults, we are fully responsible for our actions.

Late-teenagers can do much damage as they get used to their new adult responsibilities.  Car insurance companies manage these risks by charging them high car insurance premiums.  Employers of secondary-school graduates manage these risks by apprenticing them under close supervision.


During this transition time, unsupervised young men may stupidly sow wild oats, and unsupervised young women may stupidly accept them.  This normally results in a well-studied set of social problems for all of us, and severe disadvantages for the children of such brief promiscuous unions.

Teenage university students have the potential to do significant harm.  They are sheltered from the responsibilities of adulthood if their parents are funding their studies.  They also tend to avoid the benefits of close employer supervision, since they are assumed to know the work – of which they only have an academic understanding.


Since university students are normally delayed from transitioning into adulthood, they need additional adult supervision to manage their potential for harm.  When they do not receive that critical supervision, everyone is at risk.

University graduates, who have not yet experienced adult responsibilities, but who have been promoted over adults, can destroy a business.  They must make mistakes while they learn, and everyone under them will have to pay the price while they learn.


Those who give university students critical responsibilities, are the most unwise of us all.  University students were reportedly allowed to mark CXC exams – without the critical close supervision.  It was a regional disaster that will be nightmarishly messy to resolve.  But we refused to learn.

Some bright spark wants to unleash university students to visit every household, to carry-out medical tests, during a pandemic of an aggressive deadly virus.  The likely result is clearly foreseen – they will be national super-spreaders of the virus, as they go house-to-house unrestricted.


What can the Government do to reduce our chances of this becoming the foreseen national disaster?  They can simply manage the students in accordance with ISO 9001 principles.  The obvious question, that everyone seems terrified to ask, is: Why does the Government continue to reject this internal management standard, which is now desperately needed?

The Ministry of Health appears proudly satisfied with their reactive management approach – just cleaning up their unnecessary messes.  Tragically, each successive mess has greater consequences for us all.  This time, it is not the grades of our students that are at risk – it is our very lives.

Today, the Ministry of Health should be reviewing their plans to manage these students, in accordance with ISO 9001 principles.  They are not.  So, we must now beg for the lives of our fellow citizens.

Can some influential person please tell the Ministry of Health to start using the ISO 9001 international management standard immediately – for all of our sakes?

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

6 thoughts on “Difficult Conversations – Late-teenagers

  1. Good morning David, quick question did Piece the old guy died? I was traversing the blog and caught sight of names I do not know, so I was wondering since I have been on the blog in quite sometime if persons such Bush Tea, and Sergeant etc had passed?

  2. Thanks David, good to have heard you as well … Peace, blessings and God’s love brother … Hang in there and keep up the good work! Blessed ….

  3. This is what real learning is about, and not the 11 plus shite of indoctrinating and beating the fallacy that’s colonialism into young, pliable unshaped minds….finally, progress and forward movement.

    “Educators around world seek to take axe to exam-based learning

    Covid era prompts push to ditch one-size-fits-all approach in favour of skills and independent thinking

    Students of the TU Technical University Dortmund write their exams in German for foreigners at the Westfalenhalle venue in Dortmund, Germany, last June. The pandemic has hastened appeals to change assessment methods. © Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

    Tony Stack, a Canadian educator, was developing a new way to assess children even before coronavirus. The decision to scrap end-of-year assessments after the pandemic struck presented the chance to put the “deep learning” approach into practice.

    “It offered an opportunity for an authentic learning experience, outside some of the constraints of an exam,” said Mr Stack, director of education for Newfoundland and Labrador province.

    This alternative model, used in 1,300 schools across eight countries, that prioritises skills and independent thinking “set a way forward for a more ethical approach to assessment,” he explained. “Skills that students need to learn through the pandemic cannot be assessed in a single test,” he added.

    Most viewed the abrupt cancellation of exams in countries around the world as a regrettable loss that would diminish learning and life chances for a cohort of young people. A vocal group of educators also saw an opportunity to call time on the traditional exams system they say is unjust and outdated.

    “The pandemic has exacerbated all these problems that were already there with exams,” said Bill Lucas, director of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the UK’s Winchester university.

    Pupils receive their GCSE results at Copley Academy on August 20, 2020 in Stalybridge, UK. The pandemic required teachers to assess grades. © Anthony Devlin/Getty Images
    He believes traditional assessments unfairly standardises children of different abilities, fail to capture essential skills and put young people off through its rote-learning, one-size-fits-all approach.

    “Survey after survey says creativity, critical-thinking and communications are what we need. Exams don’t assess those things,” Mr Lucas said. “Covid has forced us to ask the question: ‘do we want to go back to where we were or do we want to stop and think?’”

    Rethinking Assessment, the advocacy group he co-founded to push for change, has attracted support from teachers, trade union leaders, policymakers and academics.

    Among them is Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, a Cambridge university neuroscientist who argues that exams such as the GCSEs taken by 16 year-olds in England exaggerate stress and anxiety at a time when teenagers’ brains are still evolving.

    “We need to reassess whether high intensity, high stakes, national exams such as GCSEs are still the optimal way to assess the academic achievements of a developing young person,” she wrote late last year.

    As a new coronavirus wave prompts further lockdowns, exams scheduled for 2021 also hang in the balance: England has said it would replace all formal exams with teacher assessments, while France and Canada have said they would assess children using mainly coursework.

    Last year’s cancellation of many of the main college entry tests taken annually by more than 2m students in the US meant at least 1,450 colleges and universities moved to a test-optional policy, according to the US National Association for College Admission Counselling.

    A student studies sitting apart because of coronavirus in the library at the University of Bordeaux, France © Philippe Lopez/AFP via Getty Images
    Justin Wells, executive director of Envision Learning Partners, a California school network pushing alternative approaches to assessment, said this underlined how exams were “not resilient”. “I’ve been sceptical of the power of these tests for a while but I was shocked at how brittle they are,” he said.

    Educators were searching for alternatives to exams well before the pandemic. Qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate already include flexible, project based learning.

    Leading UK private schools, such as Bedales, which have more flexibility over assessments than state-run schools, have replaced “prescriptive” GCSE exams with bespoke qualifications that allow more creativity and freedom in learning.

    In the US, some schools and districts have adopted “graduate profiles” setting out competencies or skills such as compassion, determination or creativity. Shelby County, in Kentucky, expects students to be responsible collaborators, life-long learners and critical thinkers, which are necessary requirements in a “knowledge-based economy that emphasises ideas and innovations”.

    In Newfoundland, the deep learning method has meant giving teachers more freedom to assess pupils’ pandemic experience, using projects children design themselves and enjoy.

    One maths assessment, for example, involved younger children putting knowledge into practice with a recipe. When schools reopened in September, and free from pressure to cover a stringent knowledge-based syllabus, the children were able to spend more time outside, learning about nature in more Covid-safe outdoor classrooms.”

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