What do you want to be when you grow up?

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question I suspect that most of us have been asked, and have asked others. The question infers that you’re asking about what someone wants to be professionally, or what they want to do for a living. Perhaps you know people who have always known what they wanted to be when they grew up and never wavered. Do you ever find yourself asking that question still? Do you know many adults who have changed careers over their adult lives?

I love working with young people. I find meaning in my work and try every day to make a positive difference. Ironically, when I decided to study Kinesiology at McMaster and my parents inquired what a person does with a Kinesiology degree, I told them that I didn’t know exactly what I would do - I just knew I didn’t want to be a teacher! Four years later, how did I find myself applying to Queen’s for the Bachelor of Education program? Working with children and youth during the summer had quickly changed my view and I decided that teaching was a way that I could, through hard work and caring, attempt to positively impact the future.

I have asked many students what they want to be when they grow up and am genuinely interested in what students aspire to do with their futures. However, in a recent article in the New York Times, the author suggests that we stop asking kids what they want to be when they grow up. One of the key points the article makes is that, by asking that question, we encourage students to define themselves by their work. This is easily done in a world where so many hours can be taken up with a job.

I need to reframe my question to students and ask more about their interests and dreams, hobbies and strengths. Perhaps it is time for us to ask the kids, as the article suggests, what kind of person they would like to be and some of the things that they are interested in doing in the future. We should also be mindful of balancing these questions with being in the moment and enjoying the present.

Greenwood’s teachers strive to make a difference for their students every day. Yesterday was Ministry of Education inspection day, and while the written report will take some months to finish, the inspector made it clear that she was very impressed with what she saw. I’m so proud of the students and staff at Greenwood; if my eight-year-old self knew what I know now, I may even have changed my answer to the question What do you want to be when you growup? from “Mermaid” or “Heart Surgeon” to “Principal at Greenwood”!

Thank you to the families who contributed to today’s Staff Appreciation Lunch - it was gratefully received! Wishing you a wonderful long weekend.
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Greenwood College School

443 Mount Pleasant Road
Toronto, ON M4S 2L8
Tel: 416 482 9811