What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

by Virgil Soule. 0 Comments

I knew by age seven that I wanted to be a pilot and do things with airplanes. That ambition was solidified at age sixteen in high school American Literature when we had a segment on career choices. The teacher handed out pamphlets describing different careers. I found one titled, Aeronautical Engineering, read it, and never looked back. After a satisfying forty-year career in the engineering field, I can say I made the right choice.

Years later, after retirement, I found a job working the evening shift as a backroom truck unloader at Walmart. On several occasions I asked some of the young guys on the crew what they wanted to be when they grew up. A couple of responses were in the nature of “Duh” albeit crudely stated. One fellow, however, aspired to be a manager.

Management is a worthy goal in today’s business-oriented world. It does have, however, certain educational requirements. Firstly, managers should speak English. Walmart has signs all over their stores in both English and Spanish but the primary language is English.

Those aspiring to a management career should meet certain educational requirements starting with a basic high school education: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Managers don’t just run a store, however. They may run a group of stores or even the whole corporation, in which case a college education is mandatory. They should have courses in marketing and advertising under their belts. A big-picture understanding of corporate structure is mandatory.

Above all, aspiring managers should understand that the ultimate purpose of any company is to make a profit. This unfortunately clashes with left-wing dogma preached in some universities but nevertheless is critical. We are, after all, a country with a capitalist economy.

Our education system is designed to produce managers. It is an elitist system designed to produce college students from the first day of kindergarten. The Federally-mandated Common Core, for example, has standards for teaching algebra concepts to kindergarten children. Four- and Five-year-old kindergartners don’t have the fine motor development needed to hold a pencil much less write numbers on paper. A student who aspires to be a truck driver or auto mechanic doesn’t need to know algebra. Basic arithmetic will suffice.

Our education system must be designed to serve students at all levels of achievement. Not all students are college material or maybe even high school material. The North Dakota public school curriculum in the 1950s was designed to allow students to leave school after the eighth grade with a good basic education that included English, Arithmetic, History, Geography, Health, Science, Art, Music, and Physical Education. The high school curriculum prepared students for college with an admixture of business courses and manual arts classes for those without college aspirations.

A young fellow in my elementary school class only wanted to be a cowboy and left school to do that. I learned years later that he owned a rather large cattle ranch in Montana. One does not necessarily need a college education to be a successful business owner.

Teachers and parents alike must constantly ask their students the fundamental question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Students without goals or a plan for their future will fail. Aimlessness leaves workers on unemployment rolls and we as a nation cannot afford that.


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