Last week I had the pleasure of visiting our Kindergarten classes while they were engaged in Learning Centers. Making myself as unobtrusive as possible, I circulated the classroom and innocently asked each child, “Do you ever think about what you might like to do, or be, when you are a grownup?” It made my day to get an inside glimpse into the future as defined by these budding artists and professionals.
Most children immediately piped up with a response. “A teacher!” one child enthusiastically exclaimed. Knowing that her mother is also a teacher (who apparently knew since second grade what she wanted to be), I smiled to myself knowing that the five-year-old standing before me would, in all likelihood, become a teacher as well. “I want to be a meteorologist,” one boy explained, because “I like to forecast the weather!”
I continued around the room and enjoyed the many different responses. “A cowgirl,” one girl offered, “and I already have the hat!” One boy said that he wants to be a geo-chemist, “because he studies rocks.” His friend offered that he wanted to be a “scientist who mixes formulas.” No Kindergarten would be complete without its budding police officer, of course, because they “keep the world safe” – or its doctor, who “helps people when they’re sick.”
Some will be happy to know that the class also contains a future rock star, football player, race car driver, a bus driver (“I can go anywhere I want!”) and cheerleader.
At one table a young girl offered that she wants to be a “dolphin trainer.” Her friend, listening on, said she wants to be a “mommy.” Taking this in, the third girl at the table said, “I want to be a dolphin trainer and a mommy.” The fourth child at the table had other ideas for herself – she confidently expressed that she wants to be “a builder.”
With the world changing as fast as it is, I can’t help but wonder how many of these jobs will still exist when our Kindergarten friends are ready to assume their place in the workforce. Will buses still need drivers? Will children still attend a traditional school, or will much of their learning be online? If they do attend school, how might the role of a teacher change? And builders – how will the use of 3D computers and other technologies impact their profession? I imagine it will be radically changed in the next 20 years. Might our race car driver end up being a hovercraft racer? That’s what I’d like – the ability to take off in my personal jet pack and fly over the traffic. No more wedging my car into a too-tight parking spot seven blocks away from my home. (Check out this NYT for progress in the area of hover boards like those seen in Back to the Future II: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/21/technology/hoverboard-still-in-the-future.html?emc=eta1&_r=0)
It has been a thrill being involved in education long enough to have seen the invention and integration of the internet and the way this one advancement has overhauled the traditional notion of teaching and learning. As technology continues to advance, we are preparing students now for jobs that don't even exist yet, and schools must continue to adapt to an ever-changing future. I can’t wait to see how things will have changed when our wonderful Kindergarten students stand proudly at their Eighth Grade graduation in less than 10 years.
One little girl in the class mentioned an occupation that will likely withstand the test of time and whatever technology comes our way. “I want to be a mermaid,” she said, “because mermaids swim underwater.” Let’s hope nothing ever replaces this innocence, or squelches our children’s ability to engage fantasy with such confidence. At All Saints, we will certainly continue to search for ways to harness this imagination and passion for finding innovative solutions and pathways to an enriched future.