Those who grew up, mostly in the 80s and 90s would have a better grasps of this—the in-thing was to study ‘prestigious’ courses at the university that would not only give a good chance of working at high-status organisations but also one that gives an admirable appellation to one’s name. Parents then loved being called by the titles of the degrees their children earned. They loved their kids being addressed by those same titles as well.
Being called daddy doctor, mother barrister(roughly translated to mean the father whose child is a doctor or the mother whose child is a barrister)was so attractive that parents whose children studied courses less ‘future lucrative’ and less prestigious often kept the names of those courses quiet because of their embarrassing connotations.
Some parents whose children read courses such as Yoruba Education, Physical and Health Education, Laboratory Science, Fine Arts, would simply avoid topics that could lead to them mentioning their children’s course of study. Now looking back in retrospect, one can understand why those parents thought so. The kind of exposure and understanding they had, at the time, about employment was one which was linear, long-termed and provided job security. A ‘professional’ course would get one into an organisation; move the individual gradually up the corporate ladder towards the highest position. They also preferred governmental parastatal or civil service where their children can rise to become permanent secretaries or directors. One other reason for their thinking was the enormous gratuity and pension that would be earned after retirement. That thinking of economic engagement and style of productivity worked then. Things have changed now.
I remember that growing up, my desire, coupled with the push from authority figures in my life was to become a lawyer and I had to retake the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination a second time despite the fact that I had gained admission into a university and when that did not work, I spent part of my first and second years trying to see if I could cross over from Philosophy to Law department, which again did not come out successful.
Sometimes, one wishes that the knowledge and exposure that one possess now was available in youth and some of the wasted energy and time, spent on running after ‘prestigious’ university courses would have been dedicated to finding out who we were first, and then what we were good at, tailoring our educational desire to what we discovered about ourselves and where our strengths lie, which would in turn point to the kind of economic engagement that best suited us.
The key to knowing what one could do effortlessly or what one can learn to earn a living and have fulfillment is self-awareness and self-discovery. Self-awareness is the ability of a person to be mindful of who one is, the place she occupies in this world and who she can become. Simply put, self-awareness is the consciousness that one has of being in charge of one’s own existence. From young ages, children should be guided into the discovery of who they are and a safe and organised environment should be given to them to explore and enjoy who they are becoming.
Now, most parents are aware that children come with a manual of their own: some are easy to read and discover while others take time, effort and careful observation to decipher. What do we mean by manual? Children’s natural inclination towards specific talents or skills either discovered or enabled.
It would not be wise to compel a child with the natural talent to sing in another direction, except, the child also shows an interest or is inclined towards it. A perfect example is the case of a medical doctor who, after completing his clinicals, returned to his original love of shoe-making, never picking up medicine again. When asked, “Why are you no longer practising medicine given the enormous time, energy and effort in college studying a prestigious course?” His response, “I studied medicine to please my father but now, I make my own choices and I’m back to my first love of shoemaking.”
I often smile when I see parents take their children/wards for swimming classes, chess competitions, volleyball practices, martial arts training etc., something that was mainly seen as the display of the rich and affluent some years ago. But the kind of exposure and enlightenment introduced and enabled by technology is changing perceptions in the exploration of skill acquisition and development of everyone, especially children.
More so, the rise, dominance and dependence on technology are pointers to the fact that new skills and knowledge are needed for relevance and modern economic engagements. Artificial intelligence, robotic science and some courses of studies that we have today never existed in our thinking three decades ago, and with new innovations comes new markets and the divergence of skills that must be acquired or developed to function in the roles opened by the new innovations.
A perfect example is the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the world to its knees and nations, organisations, families and individuals have had to innovate, evolve, stay informed and connected in the lockdown or restricted movement (whatever is the case in the country one resides). Which technology becomes popular to fill that need? Zoom became the saviour. Zoom wasn’t known a couple of years ago but it is one of the highly valued tools that the world is using to function in its many relevant capacities today.
Interactions, teaching, training, and so much more are now done virtually and of course, old skills couldn’t have produced nor manage the innovation of a virtual technological tool that breaks barriers of distance and connects people all over the world.
It was unthinkable two to three decades ago that fashion illustrators, make-up artists, grocery shoppers, animators, mystery shoppers etc existed and even made any financial gain but they are in high demand now because the shift in thinking has opened up new personal and professional demands.
From history, change in technology has always ushered in change in the ways of reasoning and belief and with new reasoning enters innovations and with new innovations comes new demands. The wave of technology as we have is changing beliefs and points of views. It is raising the consciousness of people and in the age of consciousness, things move according to the specification of needs, demands and wants. With new demands and needs come new innovation to provide solutions and with new innovations come new or refined skills. We must also not forget the end point: financial rewards for the service/product innovators or providers.
We must prepare those growing up for the future by helping them discover who they are and what they are inclined and interested in, legitimately expanding their horizon by helping them enjoy their growing up years alongside discovering who they are.
New thinking and innovations are coming up to tackle the unique world’s challenges and situations and young individuals must be guided and their skill levels built and explored to provide modern solutions.