10 October 2011

When I grow up I want to be a doctor

Last year, at the end of Kindergarten, I asked each of the A1's classmates to create a scrapbook page to be compiled into a binder for their teacher.  In addition to photos and drawings, I had the kids write sentences about their favorite part of the school year, the best thing they learned from their teacher, and what they wanted to be when they grew up.  A few of the children wrote that they wanted to be doctors when they grew up.  Never mind that there are a myriad of fascinating doctorate-level professions, I'm quite sure these children mean physicians.  But I know their parents and much of their history.  They had neither parents who were physicians nor profound experiences with illness that would foster significant interfacing with the medical establishment.  So what 6-year-old in his right mind would want to be a physician when there's so much else out there?  A child who's been influenced by his parents, that's who! 

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about encouraging high academic achievement.  But shouldn't it be about furthering what thrills the individual child, not what the parents want for that child?  I tell ya, I had much more respect for those kids who said they wanted to be garbage collectors (who doesn't love a big trash truck?) and teachers (yay for olde time heroes!).

For the record, A1 wanted to be an entomologist and a pilot.  He digs bugs and planes.  And he doesn't see how his life couldn't include both professions.  I'm sure he'll change his mind a few dozen more times between now and college.  And I'll applaud each choice equally.

Unrelated photos:


Rachel said...

The pressure put on kids to become doctors is ridiculous. The parents of one of my closest childhood friends were quite outspoken about how their brilliant daughter was going to become a doctor and support them. Of course she always maintained she wanted to be a doctor anyway. She did go to an esteemed university, studied science, and went into the healthcare field, but she did not end up going to med school. Sad thing is that by most measures she is a success (good job, husband, 2 kids), but I think because of those initial expectations, there has always been a self-imposed cloud of disappointment in how her life turned out.

Lam said...

Your poor friend!

I wonder if this view will change with the passing of this generation--I mean, being a physician is hardly secure (I know too many unemployed/partly employed docs) nor is it a financially lucrative career choice any more. Even association of the academic rigor is dispelled by the internet with makes accessible the knowledge to which only physicians were privy at one time.