Posted by: katlea611 | April 12, 2008

What Does Your Child Want to Be?

I think this is a very interesting read. Want to share it here.

Exploring the Future: I Want to Be a …?
by Tammy Marshall Cardwell

Some children seem to enter this world knowing exactly what they want to be when they grow up, while others still can’t decide even when they’re fifty. Still others, sure about their futures, head straight into a college degree in their chosen field only to realize later that the uniform they’ve purchased doesn’t fit. When I present workshops, I often ask the question, “How many of you went to college and are still working in the field you studied?” Usually we’re doing well if 10% of us raise our hands.

Why is this?

Many factors contribute to it, some of which are in our control as parents and others that are not. For instance, I’ve been told of studies indicating that the part of the brain responsible for making long-term decisions doesn’t even begin to develop until the age of 18, and isn’t fully developed until around 23. If this is true, it is clearly something that is outside our control as parents.

The reason most commonly given for multiple major changes in college students, and career changes in adults, is life experience. To be more accurate, I should perhaps say that the problem is a lack of life experience before making the “major” decision. This is something that is definitely in our control as parents!

Think about it. To how many different careers is the average (system schooled) high school student genuinely exposed? If they communicate with him, he may have some clue about those careers his parents have chosen. He has some (obviously limited) ideas about what teachers do. He watches the weatherman on TV and listens to his favorite radio DJ. What does he really know about the variety of careers open to him? To put it bluntly, almost nothing.

As homeschooling parents, we have taken on the job of helping our children prepare for life. Part of that help is offering options. It is up to us, especially in the high school years, to expose our children to as many career options as we possibly can. This may seem like an intimidating task, but we have multiple options open to us.

If I were involved in a local homeschool co-op, I would offer a career exploration class and encourage every junior high and high school student to attend. For every class session, I would bring in a different professional and have them share about their jobs. I would ask them to cover details like education requirements, what they did on an average day, what their lives were like if there were no average days, what they loved about their jobs, what they hated, what has hardest, what was most rewarding, how hard it is to break into their chosen fields, what steps it took to make that break, how much money the average professional made… I would do my best to ensure that these professionals shared the type of behind-the-scenes things that you really need to know when deciding if a career might be interesting on a personal level. I would also, of course, allow for plenty of question-and-answer time!

I would do my best to bring in a variety of people: the school teacher, who would probably surprise a few would-be teachers; the politician; the veterinarian; the weather man, whose job is much bigger than what we see on TV; the journalist; the pastor; the mailman; the engineer; the interior designer…every Tom, Dick, and Harriett who was willing to share about the job that (hopefully) paid their bills.

Another thing I would try to do, if I were in a co-op, is network interested students with professionals who were willing to offer them short-term (no pay) apprenticeships. This would enable them to get a feel for the jobs, to make educated decisions about whether or not the careers were something they wanted to pursue.

I am a great example of the value of this. As a teen, I had read all of James Herriot’s books, as well as a book written by a zoo veterinarian. I loved animals and wanted to be a vet, so Daddy and I decided to see if I could get a summer job at the local clinic. Then, before we could do this, an opossum attacked our cat and I went with her to the vet’s office. That stomach-churning experience was all the reality check I needed. I may love animals and would probably have made a great dog groomer, but when it came to the guts and gore of a vet’s life? The books had mentioned it and, I thought, make it fairly clear, but the written word is no substitute for real world experience!

If I weren’t in a co-op, if I were just a mom with two sons, I would still do everything I mentioned, just differently. I would call the local real estate office and ask if a realtor could spare us an hour. I would ask the friend who does my framing if we could hang out at his shop for a while. I would arrange field trips specifically designed to expose my children to as many different professions and professionals as possible—preferably, of course, people who loved their jobs. I would then try to arrange apprenticeships in the fields that seriously interested each of my sons.

Yes, I am suggesting that you add yet one more thing to your already overloaded schedule, one more course to the transcript you may eventually create. It may even sound like this would be the one thing too much, but we’re talking about your children’s future here. Would it not serve them best to help them prepare for it now, rather than later?

Note: For the record, I refer to “he” and “him” strictly for convenience and because I have sons.

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