We need to stop lying to our children.
Last week a newspaper reported on the outcomes for its vocational training programs. In the last ten years only 26% of the students enrolled in the programs actually earned trade certifications. Meaning simply that the four years high school vocational training had not yielded those good paying jobs that were promised. In some instances, certification requirements for the trade required eighth or ninth grade reading and mathematics levels which the students did not have. Why did educators lie to the students and their families and lead them to believe that a lucrative career in plumbing, electrical work or as a technician awaited them at the end of four years of schooling?
Similar instances occur with children with disabilities. A child is good at video games and tells his parents he wants to be a video game designer. The parents do not want to dash their child’s dreams. So, they agree with the child that he will be a video game designer. The fact is that very few people get to do video game design for a living and those people receive a great deal of rejection before they finally succeed. Just because a child is good compared to other kids with disabilities or even with other typical age mates, it does not mean that child is going to be among the 1 or 2% who make it in the industry. Yet we continue to lead children down the primrose path allowing to believe that these aspirations have a prayer of coming true.
I am not suggesting that we dash kids’ dreams. What I am suggesting is that we stop lying to children and encouraging them to chase after job choices that are not going to be there for them. That isn’t dashing dreams it is building reality. It is being honest with our children. They have a right to have us honestly reflect with them about their futures.
Helping children chase after stars that are within reach makes those stars real. It also allows children to use their time in school wisely learning the skills that they will need for the real world not some fantasy island.
Interviews with the graduates of the vocational programs the newspaper wrote about were very sad. Graduates thought they were preparing for a real career, only to discover they had been lied to and cheated of their right to a valid vocational training program. It’s way past time for us to stop lying to our children.