I recently went on an outing to an ice rink (and on a side note I'm pleased to announce that, unlike the skiing debacle, it was a roaring success!) As I slid at my 'Rachel pace' around in a steady anticlockwise motion, I watched the girls in the coned off section in the middle practicing their turns and spins. Despite often falling over (to the great displeasure of their rather grumpy old man instructor), they were amazing. One girl, aged about eleven, span quickly round and round and round, holding her leg bent behind her as she went and then slowly bringing it up until she was doing the vertical splits. Wowser.
|Olympic champion skater Kim Yuna|
My friend told me that Kim Yuna herself used to practice at that very ice rink when she was a hopeful figure skating youth.
As I watched I began to ponder on the wonderful- and often later forgotten- world of children's hopes and dreams.
A few years ago I attended a training workshop as part of a collaboration between youth workers and other agents of services for young people. The training was led by a woman from Connexions, which for any of you who don't know, was a careers advice service for 13-19 year olds in the UK. My own experience of them had been less than positive, consisting of a single thirty minute slot in which a fifteen year old me checked boxes next to the relevant interests and strengths and was then presented with a list of completely bizarre 'suitable' jobs. I seem to remember accountant being one of them...
The workshop was about helping to guide young people on the right paths to jobs. I can't say I was particularly inspired, but thought the premise sounded fair enough.
That is, until the trainer opened her mouth.
Within five minutes she'd depressed me so much I just wanted to run out the door and never look back.
Her opening deal was this:
"What did you want to be when you were young?"
We went round the room:
"A Space man!"
"A children's author!"
Oh how we all laughed.
Then she said (brace yourself):
"And what do you want to be, now that you're grown up?"
Nobody else even flinched.
"A police man."
"A senior youth worker."
"Erm...A children's author?"
She chose to ignore the fact that my two answers were the same (I suppose it didn't really fit with the ethos of her workshop) and proceeded to announce:
"And thats what Connexion's is here for-
to connect young people with their realistic dream jobs!"
I'll never forget that.
I teach a class here where each student thinks about what job they want when they grow up. I love that to a child the difference between becoming a teacher or becoming an opera singer, is nothing.
It's their dream, and that's it.
So I say dream big, dream big like a kid and forget what that Connexions woman said.