If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll remember that my son Louis didn’t go to university along with his peer group. At the eleventh hour he had a change of heart about wanting to be an engineer. Instead he’s working for a supply agency as a teaching assistant and may ultimately consider a career in education. I thought I’d write more of an teen update but first I’ll tell a tale from way back when he was wee. Hence today’s picture of a train. This is the one that takes passengers to the end of Southend Pier. It’s not the one in the story but it’s the best that I can do.
The train in question was the miniature one that skirts the Trago Mills shopping complex. It was just a short walk from our house. Each year the little line is converted into the Santa Express complete with elves, a sparkly grotto in an engine and mince pies for accompanying parents. It was an annual event when Lou was a kid. One year as the engine drew up at the little station I pointed it out to my three year old. ‘Look at the train!’ I said. His mind though was elsewhere. He was looking at all the boards and signals around the tracks. ‘Look at all the numbers.’ he said.
Louis has always loved maths and is particularly good at it. But his school didn’t offer further maths A-level and his grades aren’t quite at the level where he can get on a course at a university that he’d like to go to. So he’s decided to go off-piste and do his degree remotely with the Open University instead. There’s a test online to check that his knowledge is at the right level for the course. He sailed through it with full marks. More importantly he enjoyed being immersed in an arithmetical challenge. It was lovely to see. Because of the sheer pleasure that he gets from the subject I’m sure that it’s the right course for him.
On the minus side it will take longer and Lou won’t have the full college experience of running around after pub closing time with a traffic cone on his head But there are lots of pluses. It’s cheaper, OU graduates are well regarded, he can study anywhere and also earn a full-time wage while he’s working on it. It also lets him pick up transferrable skills and experience from being in employment. My boy has never liked following the crowd. Plan B seems like a pretty good one for him.