But what are you?

When I was growing up I attended an all girls secondary school, run by nuns.
Yes it was as boring as it sounded and sadly it was not a school that suited me.
As part of our “education” in our final year we had career guidance. What a joke!

The nun, who I had least respect for, was our educator. She used to wheel in a projector once a week, and put up a large screen over the blackboard. We would sit back, and try not to get annoyed, as she showed us all the fantastic careers we might be able to aspire to if in fact we worked hard enough.small__12135345674

We were shown slides of girls in various jobs. As we looked at them the nun commented on the chosen career. There was the hair dresser, which showed a girl washing someones hair. We were told it was an excellent career for a woman. We saw slides of secretaries, a very responsible job, teachers, a great job for a woman, and nurses, because women are natural carers!

We were never shown slides of Doctors, Surgeons or Accountants. In our school out of almost one hundred girls, only three did honours maths. Whether we realised it or not we were not being educated as equal to men.

Thankfully times have changed and we live in a far more equal society in terms of education. My children attend a co ed school, and there would be a major backlash if the girls were treated differently to the boys.

However it is not only in education the world has changed. When I was at school if someone asked me what I wanted to do after school I would name a career. A doctor, a nurse, an accountant, a lawyer, a teacher or whatever. When we left school we knew what we wanted to be, or what we wanted to do. Nowadays it is assumed that almost all will attend college. As a result the focus for our children is not what you want to be in life, but what you would like to study.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dherholz/528993812/">Herkie</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Recently a friend of mine was speaking of her son. He has been in college for many years, and has got a large number of degrees. At almost thirty he has just got his first job. I was delighted for him, and her, and I asked what is he doing. She looked at me and said, “Quite honestly I haven’t a clue”.

The reality is that in a few years time, I will have four children who will have attended college. We will have scrimped and saved to get them through. Yet I can’t help but wonder at the end of it all, will they know what they want to do, and will we know if some one asks us what in the name of goodness they are.

17 thoughts on “But what are you?

  1. Yes, I’ve heard parents say things like that or they say ‘oh, I’m not sure, I think it has something to do with computers’. It is one of those things in modern life, they go and study one thing and then they come out degrees and masters in another thing. I think it is good that they do have a choice and the ability to pick and choose, rather than be doomed to a job they have come to hate.

    1. Oh I do too, it is just such a change from the very narrow roles we were prepared for. I have three girls and the world is their oyster, thankfully.
      However I think the massive choice makes it difficult for many teenagers to decide.
      I am determined, even if I don’t have a clue what they end up doing I will lie through my teeth.

  2. I couldn’t (and still can’t!) decide what I wanted to do in college.Have two degrees and no career path whatsoever!Wish I could decide and devote some time to pursuing whatever the hell it is that I want to do!It might make my life considerably easier!Perhaps I’m a victim of having too much choice!

    1. Two degrees. Well done you. I can see at least one of my children heading down this route. I cannot understand why she would rush into another degree in a years time.
      Why not take time out to travel and see can she decide who or what she is.
      I wonder if now you have children does that make it clearer what you do not want.

  3. I struggle to reconcile the value I place on education with the antipathy towards the current mandatory status given to third level. I’m hoping the intellectual bubble will have burst by the time our one’s turn comes round. Plus everything requires a degree. Was there a degree in nursing when you were training?

    1. No nursing was not a degree then and when I went to Australia we were much in demand. However I do think it was good to make it a degree, not because it has made better nurses, but because it gives the qualification more respect in modern Ireland.
      I am so with you on the mandatory third level degree. It really annoys me that our children are expected to stay in education for another four years after leaving school, and now with the lack of jobs, many are going on to do masters for no other reason other than they can’t find a job!!! And then what, many go work in Dunnes or elsewhere, to make money to travel. It is madness.

  4. Yes, a masters is the new undergrad. The current school system is geared in such a way that supreme status is given to third level to the detriment of other viable and realistic pathways that correspond to the mixed talent and skills. The alternative is not afforded the same status. It is natural for parents to wish for the best for their children, and invest in that, but third level has become an over-saturated industry, and coupled with the a strain of educational snobbery, its created a set of horizons stacked in favour of the few and the industry. It’s not sustainable.

    I understand your point about respect but I feel there are other ways to enhance respect. There are plenty of worthwhile jobs that will never be recognised as such in sectors that have no or weak union representation. There are careers where the third level threshold for job entry has gotten out of hand. Journalism, for example. It saddens me that the over-abundance of courses and graduates has been at the cost of on-the-job training. My favourite writers didn’t darken the doors of a college, and there is an imbalance of prestige associated with college. Young people are sold the “college life” as a compulsory rite of passage to strive for at all costs. I hope the notion of lifelong learning gains more currency and meaningfulness in the real context of people’s lives in terms of having access to a diversity of training and opportunities for skill transfer as skills and interests change through the course of an individual’s life.

    I’m glad you’ve written about this because I’ve wanted to but been unable to. Partly because it’s one that angers me. As you might’ve guessed.

    1. Ah no, go away out of that,…. angry, you really disguised that well.
      I agree with all you say. Most particularly the part about the points getting out of hand. If I were to sit the Leaving today I doubt very much I would get nursing. A career that suited me well and one in which I think I did well.

  5. I know what my daughter does lol She completed her degree after marrying and having two children. She had her third during her studies. She is now a high school teacher. lol
    Guess what happened this morning Tric? The Tween came and asked me to brush her hair. 🙂 🙂

    1. Awwww. That was lovely. And I love the way you were able to appreciate it. 🙂
      And tonight my tween asked me was her Dad okay after the other morning!

  6. I just don’t think this process is set up right Tric. I still don’t know what I want to do. The pressure on a young person in high school, college and even after to know what they want to do forever….. just doesn’t always work well. Then people get stuck. I fear we lose great accomplishments by people not “knowing” what they want when they are so young….and then not having the opportunity later to change gears/directions. Sigh.

  7. each of my daughters have changed paths along the way, just like me, and i know we each have to find our own way, and accept that. so fun to see the person they each have ‘grown into’ )

  8. Personally I think general degrees, which offer no direct career path, are a really good way to continue education. I welcome the shift away from career and more of a focus on education. People need to find their passion(s), and for some of us, that comes later, and it really helps to have a broad base of knowledge to fall back on. It’s worked for me. I’ve been able to traverse between humanities and technology (with jobs in both areas) fairly seamlessly and am very grateful that I chose an (often mocked!) arts degree back at the beginning.

  9. I think so many of us strive hard in our 20s and early 30s to reach goals and then when we get to our mid 30s, we just want to get away from the rat race and live the good life. Funny isn’t it? Having said that, I think it is the contrast that is good – you can really appreciate one when you have seen the other.
    I think the educational system here is a bit crazy tbh though, keeping kids who aren’t academic in school till they are 18 or 19 when they don’t want to be there seems bizarre. Much better to have a GCSE system at 16 and let them work / do a trade etc then.

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