Tuesday, July 16, 2013

More Risk-Takers, Please

An article in the Guardian recently pointed out that education policy – in Britain at least – is trying to push students to be “realistic”. The encouragement is that youth should take courses that will give them the greatest chance of a job. Students are being shepherded into stable careers in law, medicine, accounting and IT, while creative instincts are being suppressed. This passage, in particular, sums up the problem with such an approach.

“More than ever, we need creative optimists and risk-takers. We don't need more hand-holding and young people being steered into what are seen (for the moment) as 'safe' jobs. In the same way that parents now feel the need to keep their children in a health and safety bubble, this is another example of our inability to live with risk. It's a form of pessimism that is limiting lives and over time could distort education provision as funding and opportunities follow an increasingly narrow pathway.”

One of the downsides of the information age is we’re bombarded with bad news. We’re pre-occupied with staying safe. It’s invading every aspect of our lives. How we eat, how we play, how we raise the next generation.

But we need risk. Without it, dreams would never make it into reality. Ideas are the currency of today and technology is the enabler. We don’t just need creative optimists, we need Radical Optimists. People who believe nothing is impossible. Radical Optimists look at the world and want to make it a better place. Problems aren’t barriers, they’re challenges to be solved.

We should be encouraging our children to discover their strengths and provide them the support they need to be successful as people (not just professionally). Pushing kids onto a path that “might” guarantee a job, regardless of their passion, may sound sensible at a time of economic uncertainty, but fulfillment and passion is a more dependable measurement of a successful life than competitive advantage.


Anonymous said...

Here, here ...I totally agree that we should be encouraging our children to discover their strengths and provide them the support they need to be successful as people ... it's like helping them think outside the box, or more importantly to start thinking and discovering what a successful truly is...

Murali "MG" Gopalan said...

I do agree that it would be great if did not drive our children to be a nation of shopkeepers the world would be a better place. I quote from David Ogilvy's Confessions of an Advertising Man, a man who dared to be different and made a difference. (his parents let him, and his mother disinherited him saying that he would make more money than she had to leave him.

"That was in 1931, the bottom of the depression. For the next
seventeen years, while my friends were establishing themselves as
doctors, lawyers, civil servants, and politicians, I adventured about
the world, uncertain of purpose. I was a chef in Paris, a door-to-door
salesman, a social worker in the Edinburgh slums, an associate of
Dr. Gallup in research for the motion picture industry, an assistant to
Sir William Stephenson in British Security Co-ordination, and a
farmer in Pennsylvania"

Anonymous said...

I partly agree with what has been said. The majority of people need to make sure they establish themselves in a stable career, especially as many fund themselves through university and have a sizable debt to repay. I totally agree with supporting talent and strengths.

Our first two children chose traditional fields: Law/Business and Vet, our third chose performing arts. All three of them chose fields appropriate for their strengths. It was difficult to decide to support a straight A's student’s choice to follow her dreams studying drama, when she could study almost anything and had universities falling over themselves to attract her to study there. In addition, when she graduates, it will be difficult for her to stay in the USA to work, if that is what she wants to do. She has already swapped majors to advertising/PR partly because she is more likely to have a stable job than performing and partly because she really enjoys it. (This is where I disagree with the statement as there are many wanna-be actors/actresses/directors etc.)

Her degree will cost $4-500,000, so like any significant investment, I want a good return. In this case, that would be a stable, well-paid career that I hope she will enjoy long-term.

To wrap some perspective around this, like Kevin Roberts, we're Kiwi ex-pats. After many years living in Asia, I can't help but think that in NZ we have more than the usual proportion of people with creative talent. But many just don’t see the down-stream potential, or there aren’t appropriate tertiary courses available, or we don’t know about them, or we just don’t dream big and think about living abroad.
Our daughter cannot do a degree in her chosen field in NZ. She is creative to her core and we see it in every facet of her life – drumming, singing, comedy acting, back-stage voluntary work. She has maintained her high achievement at university, was awarded a merit-based scholarship for the second consecutive year and we suspect she is well on her way to becoming another of the bemoaned brain-drain NZ expats – a creative one. At least she left without an unpaid student loan!

Mandip Kaur Sandher said...

If more people were to read the wise words of Napoleon Hill and "IN-sights" from over 500 people (not to say they were all right!) he studied and documented in Think and Grow Rich perhaps we might "get" the real meaning of true learning. Everything comes from within first ... no outer but inner world reflects outer feelings/emotions ... the stuff Universes are made of. Children need to be empowered with THIS knowledge so they can appropriately express their True Creativity and Gift to the world and each other.

"Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements."

Napoleon Hill