I’m sitting across the table from my oldest daughter. We are each doing some homework, on our own laptops, at a local coffee house, taking full advantage of the Wi-Fi and the sugary treats.
I didn’t expect this so soon. Maybe when she hit high school or college, but not 4th grade.
She’s working on a book report, typing away using Google Classroom. (Not quite on “home row” with her typing but I can overlook that.)
My first thought, I’m thankful that she has had teachers who have allowed her to use these tools and practice these skills on a regular basis – great preparation for her future.
My second thought, what will her future be? As an adult, a professional, what might her life be like?
Will she find herself happy in the “work from anywhere, on your own schedule, with unlimited vacation days, wearing jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, and sneakers” technology startup culture? Will she find her success in a more traditional, structured 9-5 type environment? Perhaps she will find her passions as an entrepreneur or independent contractor? What type of environment will she thrive in?
I’m not suggesting that I map out her career plan by the start of 5th grade, but I am suggesting that in a few years she will be at the stage in her education where she should begin thinking more seriously about how to turn her passions into a rewarding professional life. Yes I want her to enjoy her youth and be a well-rounded young woman. At the same time, I certainly would not want her, or any student, to wander aimlessly through high school and college and end up settling in a job that is of little interest to them. College is too expensive, the stakes are too high, and life is too short.
From the parent perspective, much of that responsibility falls on our shoulders as well. Exposing her to a variety of experiences, helping fan those flames of interest, and encouraging her to make wise decisions for her future are certainly on our list.
As an educator by profession I also feel some level of responsibility for helping all kids find their passions and plan for their futures. Certainly, teachers focus on academics, counselors assist with future planning, and administrators help to develop programs that promote student success. But I wonder if we could be doing more?
What if schools dedicated more focus to helping kids uncover their strengths and follow their passions?
I can say that I am glad that I have a few more years to get to know my oldest daughter’s interests and passions – beyond puppies, dolphins, and singing.
A final note…
There seems to be a growing interest in entrepreneurship and individuals creating their own career niche as well as the evolution of the workplace. I recently watched this TED Talk by Ricardo Semler that piqued my curiosity around these topics.
I have heard people say find something you enjoy doing as a career and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Looking into the future of professional careers, I see this becoming more and more the case. When your passion and your work environment fit your style, you don’t really have to worry about balancing your work life and personal life. You simply live out your passion – each day transitioning seamlessly between the two.
As the world of work grows, new jobs are created, others are eliminated, academic expectations increase and higher education options expand – it will be even more important that parents and educators work together to ensure that our kids follow their passions are prepared for their futures.
I know that I will be counting on that collaboration in the coming years…I’ve got three unique daughters – each with their own pathway to success. We’re going to need all of the extra help we can get.