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Children Should Be Taught Street Cred At Secondary School

News / March 2, 2013

In this competitive age the right school and the best education is rightfully at the top of the list for many parents. Displaying some of nature’s least desirable attributes we kick, scream and shout to nudge our children into the right school. We invest in legal support when they don’t. Not necessarily the ideal role model that children should emulate, or is it? This is probably the behaviour pattern our children will need to adopt to succeed in their later adult life and by watching such parental manoeuvres provide sound grounding for the future.

Schooling can provide the academic basis for reasoning. Understanding the fundamentals of the education given in primary, secondary school and university helps students with their on-going performance immeasurably. But the real world needs a number of kickers, screamers and shouters to get things done. The real world comprises of all manner of bullies, from banks, commercial sharks, dodgy contracts to employers. Having their wits about them as well as an educated view of the facts, our young adults can prevent all manner of mishaps in later life. Instead of scorning all adult behaviour we should include the fundamentals of good, bad and advantageous behaviour in the curriculum. Social skills already form part of the PSHE syllabus, maybe we need an additional level that of street cred whose content will become opperational as children become young adults. This will aid the realisation that unfortunately we do not live in a sanitised world where only good thrives.

Already teachers are apprising children of the changes to expect as they grow older but the rate of change can overwhelm logical predictions. The advent of social networks didn’t exist six years ago. The growth in the use of the internet, for both good and bad reasons, has been phenomenal. Many careers, especially in technology, didn’t exist when children started secondary school. This rate of change can at best be confusing. How do children, aged 14 years, select the ideal subjects to pursue at A level and degree level to support a career from say 22 years, of which they have little notion, and may not yet exist.As only 15 per cent of graduates use their degree vocationally there is a staggering element of waste, lost opportunity and frustration. Hence the real need for a street cred degree; how to excel in a world that is far from ideal and developing at a furious rate.

One of the supreme ironies is the greatest entrepreneurial success often emerges with people who have not succeeded academically. Their DNA is spun entirely differently from the rest of us. And a huge amount, I believe, is down to their innate street cred ability; to spot an opportunity, take a risk and do it rather than just dreaming. The problem is how we teach students to acquire and utilise this ability. You would think that to run an organisation developed by an entrepreneur would require a vast range of skills. The business complexity grows exponentially and would need a person with extraordinary talents, but this is part of their skill. The successful entrepreneur knows when to back down and surround themselves with people having the skills they do not possess. This not only helps the entrepreneur to free up time to move onto the next project, it fuels the operation with expertise to allow it to thrive.

If this is the case where do we need the street cred. In a word competition. Many solid business has fallen foul of competitors who have stolen the product or a march on the original company. Competition will often use the kick, scream and punch approach. The business that is run entirely ethically may often fall to their onslaught. Even those operations who start with an entirely moral methodology are forced to change their approach with time to meet their growth objectives and competition. Pret A Manger, the purveyor of all things good sold its soul to MacDonald’s, The Body Shop sold out to L’Oreal. Even the great Google have adopted tactics that don’t sit well with its original corporate maxim of  “You can make money without doing evil.” Competition, the need for growth to meet shareholders and employee expectations  can lead to a form of greed which can sway many a marketing policy. We need street cred to spot when this is happening. It can then be no real surprise that supermarkets are tempted to cut corners in the cost of foodstuffs, airlines charge for all manner of ingenious extras that can con the ingenuous. Many a marketing proposal emphasises an often ludicrous lowest common denominator; cost per mile, cost per night for cruises etc. that have no real logic. The words “from” and “up to” beckon customers with enticing offers that frequently can never be realised and perhaps border legality. Roll back prices promoted by supermarkets that are the result of a previous short term inflated price to establish a “fictitious” bench mark. These are the street cred elements that students need to be aware of in adult life – if not before. Remember the infamous ring tone scandal where children were duped into paying for on-going extras hidden in the original agreement. Unfortunately this experience has bred a new generation who continuing to dupe children. Examples can be seen in computer games where the original apps charged at 69 pence mask further purchases charged at 6.9 pounds and 69 pounds, exploiting the unknowing.

Street cred is the basic from of survival. The more proficient students become the more likely they will survive and thrive in the adult world. We are tested every day with new ingenious assaults on our integrity. Nothing new in that, there were scurrilous deeds in Roman times. We have to keep up as in this technological era. New ways of misleading, kicking and screaming will abound; only now they are on a global basis.


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