I had contacted four people who I had known previously would give me a
good afternoon’s craic and work. Four approachable people, who would
be quite lively, innovative and interested in young people. It’s
very important who you choose to do this. I had contacted them and sent
them the sheet that the pupils were going to get for their activity so
that they were fully aware of what was going to take place and what this
game was about.
It involved them coming along to the school and being
greeted by the pupils and then going round the tables of pupils and each
pupil was allowed to ask one question each in their group. And the visiting
speaker or the visiting interviewee was only allowed to answer yes or no.
This made that the questions had to be well planned beforehand. Don’t
give the questions to the pupils because that’s spoon-feeding. If
you find that the pupils are finding difficulty coming up with the questions,
do give them a few wee pointers of what they could ask. But we found that
they didn’t have any difficulty and they had to put more thought
into ‘What do we want to get from that question? What are they going
to tell us? Is that detailed enough? We’re only allowed one each!’
It made them think a lot more, rather than giving them the questions to
ask the visitor.
At the end of the set of questions, they were to write
in four envelopes the post, what they thought the person did and the firm
or public organisation they thought the person worked for. Location was
not important, i.e., Draperstown, Magherafelt. They were not given marks
on that. It was more on the detail they could come up with on what the
person actually did. We had one person from the district council, We had
a manager from Going Places travel agency in Cookstown. We had the bank
of Ireland manager from down here in Draperstown, and we had John O’Hagan
who is managing director of Specialist’s Joinery in Maghera.
The four speakers were excellent, and we had chosen
wisely. They were great craic with the youngsters; the youngsters enjoyed
it and were able to guess what they did. But the answers and the standard
of answer would have ranged from, for example, ‘Works in the bank’
to another envelope, opening up, ‘The manager of Bank of Ireland’,
which showed you the detail they were able to achieve from their questions.
And after the interviews, the visitors had agreed to
stay for a few minutes afterwards and speak to the youngsters on how they
feel that Year 12 students should leave their school – what skills
or qualities they’re looking for, even taking someone for work experience
– what they’re looking for. And the pupils were allowed to
ask the visitors questions, and they did ask! Normally if you have a visiting
speaker in, they’ll say ‘Are there any questions?’ and
you get very few. These children asked, because they had already got over
the initial hurdle of asking a question each anyway and they were full
of interest and ‘How much do you earn? What type of car do you drive?
Could I get a job in your place?’ So it was very worthwhile. It was
very enjoyable and they didn’t even know they were learning and experiencing
those skills from that activity.