not yet

Today marked another assembly-that-wasn’t (the last being Epiphany, with the ‘Three Kings and a Pink Iguana sermon’ which the congregation got instead).

I had planned to speak about friendship — about how important it is to stick with the people who intrigue you, the ones you are willing to be hurt by, and those who can make you laugh.  This in light of the spate of studies about how unhappy British children are, and how much worse it is for those with messed up family situations.

Well, a scheduling error meant that none of that happened.  Then later in the day I spoke with the year head, who invited me (among other things) to the ‘planning for the future’ day that Year 2 will have in a few weeks.  This is a day for the kids to think about what they are going to do with their lives — to choose the courses they need, to drop the ones that are deemed ‘inappropriate’  or ‘unnecessary’, and to begin seeking work-experience.

I know that this is good and right and proper, and that for many  a clear sense of ‘needing to get a job’ will be all that keeps them from falling off life’s edge.  But they are 14.  It is too soon.

I so want to say to them, ‘look, forget about what’s useful– what excites you?’   I want to tell them to ignore exams and read a book or perfect a drawing or have a really good conversation with someone about something out of the ordinary.

I want to tell them to stop pretending there doing ‘nothing’ when they get caught up with friends and are late home for tea.  It’s the ‘wasting-time’ conversations that give space for dreams.   What could be more important when you’re fourteen?

8 thoughts on “not yet”

  1. Or tell them how important it is to do “nothing” – see if you can wean them off the idea that they absolutely have to get a job to earn money instead of having the time to lie on the bed and stare at the ceiling, if that’s what they need to do!

  2. Oh yes, agreed! And especially as there will be plenty of voices with the ‘what are your plans’ and ‘work-experience’ stuff so to have at least one voice talking about dreams and excitement and friendship seems invaluable. I had a prof in college once who told me to make choices that would give me more choices, and that was such a good piece of advice that I pass it along to all and sundry. It seems a good place to be at when you’re fourteen. Not closing down options.

  3. Couldn’t agree more, Kimberly. It can be too soon even at 18 or 21.

    Among the more depressing experiences of my teaching career, two stood out. One had to do with students who reached the end of their degree with no idea of what they wanted to do with their lives, and no inkling of what was going to hit them when they went out into the harsh competitive world.

    The other was constituted by those who had a career plan mapped out from the first day they entered university, and refused to take notice of anything that wasn’t ‘relevant’ to that. You know the sort of thing: ‘Do we get poetry in the exam?’

  4. You asked, “what could be more important when you’re fourteen?”

    My response would be seeing the female priest and wondering if I could be one and what’s it like. Then, perhaps wondering what she does in her day and maybe realising that it included time to ponder questions like these.

  5. OTOH, had I bothered about a career instead of family children and friends, I might be in a better position now.

    Had I tided my kitchen instead of writing, I might not just have opened the door to a client with chaos as my frame.

    Heigh ho.

  6. you might well be in a better position, but that’s not quite what we were talking about…

    I suspect you don’t want a client who can’t see the humour in you cleaning other people’s houses.

  7. Thanks for your visit and comment 🙂

    I am always torn when marking essays between enforcing ‘the rules’ and encouraging creativity. In the end I find I still point out the rules, because as people go on (in academia at any rate) if they don’t conform to the rules (word counts, house style, that sort of thing) they will be ignored. So I tell students that the best way to get their creative voice heard, the best way to subvert the system if you like, is to start off by conforming in order to get their foot in the door. Their work and ideas might be brilliant, but if it’s poorly presented the chances are the people that need to hear those ideas won’t get beyond the poor presentation.

    I think I might be rambling.

    Oh and it reminded me of the most recent Indiana Jones film too. Indy is talking to the young guy, telling him it’s not important to be stuffed to the eyeballs with qualifications etc, but to find himself, do his own thing. Then (spoiler alert if you’ve not seen it) he finds out he’s his son and goes ballistic at him that he’s dropped out of school!

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