Happy Labour Day to all the hardworking parents who had to juggle between career and family life. I salute you and the challenges you have to face especially when your little one falls sick and you have stay up all night and still go in to work early the next. As I type this article, I’ve gone straight 72 hours with only about 3 hours of sleep.
My parents have been busy trying to engineer my son’s future. Apparently it’s a tradition to place various items in front of the toddler and predict his career path by the item he picks. It’s such a brilliant yet radical idea that I intend to take this method and carve a business as a career consultant. Unfortunately, I was reminded that I picked a pen when I was 2 years old and therefore a writer I must become. So, there goes my awesome business idea.
The items on the list are as follows: calculator, pen, stethoscope, paper plane, a ruler, a wallet, and a hammer. I was surprised to learn that the wallet symbolizes Banker and not Pickpocket. The Hammer symbolizes Judge and not Contractor. To say this list is incomprehensive is an understatement. I voiced out my concerns to my mother who responded swiftly and with utter conviction: “You only put the items of desirable career choices. You see, you picked pen you became a writer. Your cousin picked a car, see what he is today?”
I contemplated telling her that my cousin makes more money as a Grab car driver than I do as a freelance writer, but I couldn’t bear to break my poor mama’s heart. So I nodded and tried a different approach. “What about other modern career choices like an entrepreneur, for example?”
“The wallet can also symbolize business man,” my mum replied.
“Then why can’t the wallet also represent pick-”
My mum hushed me with a raised finger indicating the end of discussion. This set me thinking….
In just a span of two generations, we have seen a rapid change in the job market never experienced before since the last industrial revolution. Jobs are disappearing, replaced by technology. New job titles, the likes I have never heard before, are now the rage amongst young graduates. I don’t consider myself old, but when I hear tech founders in their early 20s talk about losing touch with their younger counterparts, it’s cause for worry.
The generation gap is splitting faster and further than the polar icecaps. I’m not confident that the things I am going to teach my son is even valid anymore. Things like picking an item as a toddler to determine one’s career path was a very real thing for my parents and their parents, but I gave that belief the respect I reserve for scientologists. I can only imagine what my son would think about my words of wisdom when I try to talk to him about life. It is a sobering thought.
My friend works in one of the fastest growing kid’s hands-on entertainment brands in the world where children are offered a chance to role-play life as little adults. Since I’m not going to be getting much sleep tonight, I thought I would catch up with her.
“Kids are more aware of the world around them than we did at their age. The stuff that we knew when we were 16, they now know it at 10. Some kids are questioning why school is important. What are you going to tell them?” she said, with a slight tinge of irritation in her voice.
“What about jobs?” I asked. “How are the kids reacting to the role-playing sessions?”
“The love it! They don’t see it as work at all. They do however learn a deeper meaning behind their actions. This is a big difference from our time when the idea of work is to make a living. Children these days seek purpose. Having the chance to experience these concepts at an early age allows them to develop reasoning. When did you develop that skill?”
I pursued a degree in IT at my parent’s recommendation: 3 years in polytechnic and another 2 years in university only to graduate and find that the IT industry had tanked in the late 90s.
Today’s children question everything and can smell B.S. a mile. How then can we guide them into the future without losing grip on reality ourselves?
She continued: “The idea is not to predict their future based on our past. Give them the opportunity to develop their reasoning skills. Probe, ask questions, get them to use their whole brain.”
“It’s about knowing how your child’s brain is wired and how his experience shape his perspective of the world around him. Your job is to allow your son to experiment in a safe environment so that he is equipped to handle his own future.”
The silence lingered as I contemplated.
“It’s 3a.m, Eugene. If there’s nothing else I’m going to go back to bed,” she said.
The phone beeped indicating that the call has ended.
I spent the rest of the night researching up on this Whole Brain concept and came away with one conclusion which I will explore in my next article.
Written by Eugene Tay, founder of Brain & Butter and Monsters Under the Bed.
When Eugene was a young boy, he wanted to be an astronaut. When that didn't take off, he decided that he was going to be like Indiana Jones and explore the world as an archaeologist. Eventually, he figured out how he can do both. That's when he became a writer.