Tuesday, 27 October 2009

When I grow up, I want to be...

This week brought news that the British education authorities are going to start giving careers advice to seven-year-olds.

Yes, you heard right. Seven-year-olds are going to get vocational guidance.

Apparently, the idea is to empower and raise the ambitions of kids from less advantaged backgrounds.

Yeah, right. What a kid from a sink estate with an alcoholic mum and an abusive stepdad needs is some well-meaning but utterly clueless and PC middle-class Yuppie telling them how to become a lawyer. If anything's going to send them over the edge into the oblivion of a tube of Uhu in a paper bag, I reckon that would do it.

Most seven-year-olds I know haven't even got a clue if they want fish fingers or cocoa pops for their afternoon tea, let alone what career path they want to follow in 15 years time.

I was unusual. At the age of eight I had decided that I was going to be (not "wanted to be", note) a journalist. I later qualified that to say 'journalism or advertising' (since then I've had a go at both and now earn my crust doing something like a hybrid of the two).

But at seven, I wanted to design theatre sets. And tame lions. And be the Queen of the World. And be Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. And a Womble. And still be home in time for my tea-time boiled egg with toast soldiers.

A quick poll of friends and acquaintances revealed an interesting selection of their seven-year-old ambitions: nurse, puppeteer, vet, fighter pilot, hairdresser, pirate, spy, fairy, drummer, princess, paleontologist, footballer, astronaut, pink pony (yes, I know - and she seems SO normal now), doctor, international telephone operator.... stripper.

To my knowledge, none of them are now doing what they planned all those years ago.

So WHY did some genius in the Ministry of Education think it would be a good idea to heap yet more stress on seven-year olds already teetering on the precipice of SATS-induced breakdowns and nervous exhaustion by expecting them to have a life plan drawn up before Blue Peter and Jackanory are over?

Can't they just let them be kids? There's only one time of our lives when we can enjoy (without guilt or embarrassment) the sheer joy of building a teepee in the garden with some bean sticks and an old blanket, making a Dalek in the shed, or simply spinning round and round until you fall over laughing like a loon for no reason other than the thrill of silly dizziness.

My son summed it up pretty well five years ago. When I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he answered "I don't WANT to grow up. I want to stay seven forever."

Out of the mouths of babes, and all that...


  1. My 12 year old has wanted to work for Aardman Animations since he was four. He hasn't changed his mind yet! x

  2. I *still* want to be a pirate. Not so much a spy anymore - that involves being a civil servant. And I think Donovan's got the whole being Donovan thing nailed better than I ever could.

    I asked CJ what she wanted to be when she was seven and she said: "An archeaologist. And a Spice Girl."

    She also said: "Mind you, I think seven year olds are pretty intelligent. A lot more intelligent than adults." LOL

  3. My only-just-8-year-old wants to be an archeologist. And "someone who helps animals". In my opinion that qualifies her to be Miss World but I don't think she would like that much. Too much posing in swimsuits for her liking.

    My just-just-5-year-old would like to be a baby unicorn or a baby monkey. I think she might be a smidgen young for careers advice too don't you?!

    My brother always knew he wanted to be a farmer. He still does - want to be a farmer - he's been a prominent agricultural journalist and is now almost a small-holder. So he's almost there.

    I wanted to be an actress. Since forever. And a writer. Well I'm writing this and I have my blog so maybe we do get to achieve what we want......

    L xxx