Durrington C of E primary school has hit the news this week as it sent a letter home to parents regarding its ‘My World of Work’ day. The school wants children to dress up for the day, using clothes and props to represent their future dream career choice. All very admirable. However, the reason the school has hit the headlines is because in a ‘special notes’ section on the letter home, the school have said that they’ve banned children from dressing as footballers, pop stars and YouTubers, because these careers are ‘so hard to achieve’. Instead, they’ve encouraged children to ‘think of their ‘plan B’ choices for future jobs’.
Olympic sportsman Jack Green was outraged, and highlighted the letter on social media. But, is the school right? Did you have a ‘plan B’ career choice as a kid? Should we be encouraging our children to make realistic career choices, or should we be supporting them to dream big and go for their ‘plan A’? After all, if Jack Green hadn’t been encouraged, he wouldn’t now be the proud owner of two Olympic medals.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher. It’s all I wanted to be. I didn’t have, or need a plan B, because, why would I? I could so be a teacher! I even practised on my little brother, making him do sums and say, “yes, Miss Grice,” when I called his name on the register I made. All through school, if asked, I’d tell people I was going to be a teacher. All through senior school, I chose GCSE subjects with a teaching career in mind, and I looked at going to universities that offered good teacher training. Me being a teacher seemed so obvious, I didn’t need a fallback career in case it didn’t work out and I didn’t become a teacher. And, guess what?
I didn’t become a teacher.
Life just didn’t work out the way I planned. And you know what? I did ok! Yes, I’ve flitted somewhat from job to job, not quite knowing what I really wanted to do, but that’s ok. Because now, at the age of almost 41, I think I’ve finally found my dream career. It’s not teaching, and perhaps it never was. I’ll never know. What I’m doing now, and what’s making me really happy, was never my plan B – or even my plan A!
Having a plan B doesn’t hurt. It’s a sensible thing to do. But, encouraging children to abandon their plan A without even trying? Go straight to plan B, do not pass ‘go’, do not collect £200? Nope. I don’t agree.
Of course, we know that not all of our aspiring footballers and pop stars are going to make it. Not even close for most, I imagine. But I’m a big believer in learning through experience, and I’d rather encourage my kids to try and not succeed than to never try at all and always wonder ‘what if?’
What do you think? Should we discourage our kids’ dreams? Are we setting them up to fail if we do encourage them and, if so, is that even such a bad thing?