What do you want to be when you grow up?

More information of less value via RSA Animate...

A still Image of an RSA Animate video by dullhunk via Flickr

When you were young, and your parents asked you “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and you answered with whatever was your heart’s desire at the time, what was their response?

In my travels within Playcentre, listening to the littlies announce their intended professions (some of which will change three times before next Sunday…) I’ve been amused by the adult reactions.

Take the announcement “I want to be a doctor!” as an example.

In some cases, the response is merely an acknowledgement.    “Oh what a lovely idea!” the adult might say.

In others, the adult takes the announcement seriously and provides too much information. “Well, you’ll have to go to school for a really long time and do a lot of hard work. You won’t be a doctor until you’re 30!!”

Less frequently, you hear something like this:  “I like that idea.  Shall we go and read a story about doctors?” or (after theatrically pretending to trip and fall) “Oh! OW! I think I’ve hurt my arm.  Do you think there’s a doctor here who will check my arm?” or something else that actively acknowledges and encourages the exploration of the idea the littlie has expressed.

In which case do you think the child has learnt the most?

When I was younger (but older than 9) the response I gave most often to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up,” was “A writer.”

The adult response to that was “Oh! Well then you’ll want to be an English Major in University.”

That wasn’t the most helpful response. I didn’t hear a better response until I was 16 and I went to an adult education course on creative writing. There, the response was simply “Write.  Write frequently. Write often.  Rewrite.  Write what you hear. Write what you see.  Write everything you experience.  Keep writing.” Makes sense, doesn’t it?  And if an adult had said that to me at 9, how different would my writing be? We won’t know.

But we could know for our children.

My children and I were watching a video by RSA Animate (check them out, you’ll learn a lot!!) and while most of the talk probably went over their heads (many abstract ideas!!) they were fascinated by the drawings.

My Boy, at the end of the video said wistfully “I wish I could draw like that.”

If we look at the adult responses above, then I could have said “Yes, that would be cool, wouldn’t it?”  or I could have said “Well, then, you’ll want to take drawing classes and be an art major.” But I didn’t.

I said “The artist is able to draw like that because he draws a lot. He draws every chance  he gets. Sometimes  his drawings don’t look the way he wants them to, so he does them again.  He draws the things he sees, he draws the things he knows. He draws  how he feels. If you want to draw like that, then you have to sit down and do a lot of drawing. Practice.”

That idea excited My Boy.  He asked “Can I go and do some drawing, now?” Of course I said yes, so of course, he did.

This doesn’t necessarily mean he will be a famous artist when he grows up.  It doesn’t even mean he will stick at drawing all the time.  But unlike me, he’s been given a crucial bit of information. If you want to be able to do something well, you have to practice it.  Often.  It’s up to him whether he does it or not.

How have you responded to your children’s aspirations for the future?


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

About Broot

Thoughts about learning and life that are lost in a sea of blogs.

4 responses to “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

  1. Michelle says :

    My son is at the doctor stage at the moment and I am getting daily check-ups, apparently I need some special block medicine 🙂 I love how you encouraged your son. My boy is really into cars, and at 4, he already knows more about them than me! great post xo

  2. Writer Jobs says :

    Great post thanks. I really enjoyed it very much.

    Love writing? We would love for you to join us!

    Writers Wanted

  3. eof737 says :

    I encourage my kids to follow their heart’s dream… I believe we should do that as no one knows where a child’s fortune lies. Sure, we want them to be practical but that opinion must always be tempered with the line “follow your heart…” 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: