Case studies Ben, the drifter
Ben, the drifter
Ben, the drifter

Ben, the drifter (6)

Motto: Entertain me, keep me interested.

Demographic and biographical Characteristics

Ben is 20, male, and has just done his A-levels. He lives at home with his mother, his father died when he was 9.  He has worked in a local pub on weekends and during school holidays. He has always been very sporty and played under 18 and under 21 rugby at quite a high level. Last year he was treated for a groin injury and is waiting for another operation. He is still playing but has been advised by doctors that he should give up.


Educational and transitional pathways

Ben did fairly well at school and went in to the 6th form to do A-levels. After a few months he got bored and decided he wanted to leave school. He got a job doing sales and marketing in a company run by a family friend which was low paid but seemed to have prospects. Six months later he was bored with that too. He decided to return to the 6th form to do his A-levels and apply to university. He wanted to do a degree in sports science and become a Physical education teacher. This meant he was a year older than the other pupils in his class.

By his own admission, he did not do a lot of work. He also missed about 7 weeks of school because he had an operation for a sports injury and he was not really interested in the A-level subjects he was doing. He failed his A-levels. He decided to go back and resit his A-levels the following year. This meant he was actually 20 when he left at the end of this academic year. He is not hopeful that he has passed although he says he worked harder but the teachers were ‘boring’. He seems to have had a lot of arguments with his teachers.

However, he did not reapply to university as he was now unsure what he wanted to study as the doctors have told him that if he continues to play high level contact sport his injuries are likely to be permanent. Despite this, he still plays but not every week.

He increased his work in the pub and, on the assumption that he has failed his exams, thinks he may take a year out and apply to university next year. Or maybe look for a job. He is unsure what he is going to do.

Motivations and Strategies

Ben is very bitter about his injuries and now he cannot follow the career he wanted, he is refusing to think of an alternative. His motivation to do anything is very low. The only thing that motivates him is watching sport on the television or attending sporting events. He also spends a lot of time socialising and puts a lot of effort into it. He is a good looking boy and together with his high social status as a sportsman, he is very attractive to girls and this is very important to him.

Ben does not really want to leave home because he thinks it would be hard for his mother to be on her own - they are very close and she is also a keen sportswoman.

He does not seem to have any coping strategies for dealing with his current position. Prior to this, Ben’s strategy was a bit unclear - it seemed to be to do the minimum work to get by (or not!) but perhaps this is unfair.

“If I’m interested I will work but I find it hard to concentrate if I’m bored and the teachers just don’t make it interesting”.

He certainly has a pattern of drifting - he gets bored, makes a quick decision, tries something out, loses interest, opts out, tries something else, loses interest...etc.  He is an opportunist and not a long-term planner.

Ad hoc learning scenarios

Ben works in the pub and seems to enjoy it - although he has discounted following this route as a career (“It would be boring to do this all your life”) and did not know it was possible to do a degree in Licensed Trades or Hospitality Management. He is sociable and very personable and the customers like him. He is good with older people

“There’s one old couple who come in for lunch about once a month and when they ring to book, they always ask when I’m on and book for that day - and give me a big tip.”

However, he says he has not learned much from working there apart from basic trade skills like changing barrels and said he learned those in a day but that there was not much else he needed to know.

Ben is also good with children and helped out as a volunteer with a local holiday playscheme doing sports activities. In his final year at school, he used to help coach the junior soccer and rugby teams and enjoyed this. He has discounted this as a career because he says that

“You don’t get paid for coaching junior teams unless you are a sports teacher in a school or unless you are a club coach - but then you have to have played yourself quite a lot or you get no respect”

He struggled to think of what he had learned when he was coaching children and eventually said ‘patience’. He has also been coached by professional coaches himself for about 6 years and said he learned more from then than in school. He said he was a good team player and he took that with him into other contexts. He also said it taught him to communicate well with others

“they make you do exercises where you are playing but you have to keep up a running commentary of what you are thinking and what you are going to do and what decisions you are making and we do a lot of stuff about communicating on the pitch - what you want from other players, it’s like a shorthand.”

Support Services used

Ben had advice from the careers service and had compulsory careers lessons in school. He thought they were both a waste of time. His choice of university was dictated by commuting distance as he did not particularly want to leave home - which only gave him one option.

He has never used the web to look for jobs or other guidance nor used any other support agency. He lives in a small village and found his pub job by word of mouth.

Learning type

Teacher centred - Ben is heavily dependent on his teachers to keep him interested and motivated. He is not an autonomous learner and appears to think that it is the teachers’, responsibility rather than his.

Coaching: Ben loved training and was very complimentary about the coaches and said he had learned a lot from them. He respected the fact that they knew more than him whereas he implied that his teachers did not.

“They really know their stuff, some of them are quite tough but they make you work hard. They get you to do things you didn’t know you could and that’s a great feeling. Magic.”

Information and Communication Technologies

Ben uses Facebook to chat to his friends, plays on-line games and uses YouTube. When he was at school he used to use the internet as a resource for research assignments. He admits to being a surfer and says he has collected a lot of information that way - he got very interested in Japanese culture through the Manga sites. He has never used ICT specifically connected with jobs or careers information.

However, he said they used video and You Tube clips as part of his rugby coaching sessions.

“Not just going over vids of matches we played but there were good games like they show you a clip from a match and we used to have teams and say what we thought happened next.”