Friday, October 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Point of Brew: Graduations: moving on and future options

MichaelLewisW

By
From page A9 | June 19, 2014 |

Examinations and qualifications and educational choices are much in my mind these days.

This is partly because I have just bid farewell to the 2014 class of students in my Master Brewers Program; we had a happy graduation luncheon last week following the three examinations of the Institute of Brewing. Also, we attended the Davis High School graduation ceremonies on Friday evening that was special for us as our grandson crossed the stage and, finally, our whole town has enjoyed the unusual traffic associated with the UC Davis graduation ceremonies. It’s just that lovely time of year.

But all this made me uneasy; maybe I can explain why though I have to start nearly 65 years ago.

When I was a small boy I knew I had three seminal events ahead of me that would define most of my options and opportunities for the rest of my life and so would determine, to a large extent, what I could do and what I could become. I think most of us youngsters understood that, even at that tender age; we could either give those seminal events some serious attention, or not, as we pleased or, more likely, as our parents taught us and insisted.

The first hurdle was the 11+ exam. I have no recollection of taking this exam that was given to 10- and 11-year-olds. My guess is that it merely separated the reasonably literate small boys and girls from those who were less so or cared a great deal less. This may seem a young age to start sorting the sheep from the goats but that is the way it was. That 11+ exam determined whether one could attend a grammar school (for the literate) or a secondary modern school.

The grammar school was the better educational option.

The second hurdle hove into view at the age of 16 when we grammar school kids sat the General Certificate of Education exam with English and mathematics and choosing (if I remember rightly) four or more additional subjects; those choices skewed toward either the arts or the sciences. This exam determined whether one could continue to the sixth form and so walk onto the trail that potentially led to a university. The alternative was to leave school and go to work.

The sixth form and the science skew were the better educational options.

In the sixth form we carefully chose the few subjects we would study because, after two years we few survivors, now about 18 years old, would take the GCE at the “A” (advanced) level. We qualified in those three subjects that were oriented either to arts or to sciences. My topics were biology, chemistry and physics.

That seemed to me the better educational option.

And so to study biochemistry and eventually to UCD.

The DHS graduation was fun, in parts, and it was grand to see so many beautiful, vibrant and joyful young people all in one place at one time. But I had the uneasy thought that few of these students truly understood what a seminal moment this was for them because of the choices they had already made or would shortly make in college; that is because they have not been subject to the rigorous sorting experience that I survived.

Choices have consequences.

What those graduates are equipped to do next, or are able to do next, or what they choose to do next will have the same effect of shaping their futures and defining their option and opportunities as I first experienced at 10 years of age. I feared they are not well prepared to make wise decisions because they have arrived at this advanced age and are graduating without having to make those sort of hard and deliberate choices.

And, absent powerful parental input, they will have no help in making wise decisions.

Ringing in their ears, as they go off to colleges near and far, will be some of the worst advice they will ever be given, from, for example, well-intentioned speakers at the graduation ceremonies, who, with a distinctly 18th century view of education, encourage them to explore widely and find themselves at college, find their muse, find what they love and pursue it, and above all be happy (without saying when or how or defining what that is).

Then at college they may choose vacillating I-can’t-decide options at the University of California, for example, where they can be students of “exploratory” or “undeclared.” These are perhaps the worst programs the university has ever offered; for crying out loud these are 18-year-old adults and it’s high time they got some focus and got on with it. They will have four years at university; I had three.
We didn’t think we were too young for the educational decisions we had to make because the system did not infantilize us and that was the expectation. That was the road that a student could choose to walk or not walk.

Those were the educational options.

It seems to me that students who are off to universities and colleges need to get on the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) track ASAP. Learn to do something or make something. In this modern day and age, men and women with STEM degrees are needed and they find work in an ocean of unemployment. There is a shortage of people with necessary STEM skills.

Some might say “Ah! Ugh! You moron! Education is not about getting a job but about expanding the mind and exploring the wide world of knowledge and fulfillment and intellectual satisfaction and finding happiness.”

Well, if an education is not about the future that will contain work on five of every seven days what in goodness’ name is it about?

Happiness does not grow out of under-employment, nor poverty, nor work below one’s intellectual capacity and presumed pay scale, so the decision to undertake a certain educational path must weigh the employment options at the end of four years of study.

Trust me on this, new graduates, STEM subjects rock! It’s the better educational option, because it permits more choices and opens more opportunities.

Some 40 young people come to me every year to study brewing science. Many must take remedial STEM subjects before admission to the program because it is fair to admit (and take money from) only those with a reasonable chance of success. For this reason, although we are not selective or exclusionary, we prefer to admit students with STEM degrees; also we know full well that, when the big breweries come calling for recruits, only those with STEM degrees need apply.

Those students have the most options and the richest range of employment and career choices. This is worth thinking about for students about to embark on four more years of study.

— Reach Michael Lewis at cymro@sbcglobal.net. Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

.

News

A-Z: Downtown Davis is the place to celebrate

By Kimberly Yarris | From Page: C1

 
Courageous Thompson tapped for cycling shrine

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
UC researchers: How low-water can our landscapes go?

By Katie F. Hetrick | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Testimony begins in Winters murder trial

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Hong Kong protesters to vote on staying in streets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Cloud business lifts Microsoft’s quarterly results

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Yoga and chanting workshop planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Downtown menu: coffee, boba tea, dessert

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: C3

 
Can you give them a home?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Scientists work to save endangered desert mammal

By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Host families needed for students and teachers from Mexico

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Halloween Dance set Friday for teens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Day of the Dead folk art class set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Flea Market planned Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Enjoy A Taste of Capay at historic ranch

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Red-hot tunes set at Blues Harvest

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Learn how to fill a cornucopia with flowers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Video highlights Props. 1 and 2

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
‘Homeopathy at Home’ program planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Celebrate origami at Davis library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Garden sale and open house features water-wise demos

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C4

Meet Poppenga at dog park Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Bay Bridge art project needs $4 million to keep shining

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Weir honored, a year early

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
For a good cause

By Fred Gladdis | From Page: A6

Americans, internationals make connections

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
Explorit: Poison-proof your home with free lecture

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A6

Sutter auxiliary seeks volunteers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
School board hopefuls discuss homework policy

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7

Walkers welcome to join Sierra Club outings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Project Linus seeks donations

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

The magic is long gone

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
What’s next with Ebola?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

More theories on the abstention

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Rights beget responsibilities

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Water returns to its source

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
A solution to the drought

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Experience nature’s treasures

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Subs have other concerns

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

.

Sports

DHS footballers take on Pleasant Grove

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Bye No. 2 comes at perfect time for nicked-up UCD

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Shhh. Are Aggie women BWC’s best-kept secret?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Bump, set, playoffs: Blue Devil girls clinch spot in postseason

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Aggies expect a bonny meeting in Sacramento

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
UCD roundup: Preseason awards roll in for Aggie hoopster Hawkins

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sharks suffer from road woes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

.

Features

.

Arts

DMTC plans ‘My Fair Lady’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

 
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra to perform

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Calling all artists for upcoming show

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
‘St. Vincent:’ Quite a character

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

Rumpledethumps to play at Village Homes Performers’ Circle

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Business

 
Car Care: Five things to ask yourself when shopping for a new vehicle

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

.

Obituaries

Lewis Melvin Dudman

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Ann Foley Scheuring

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, October 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B3