“Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. Ask them what problem they want to solve.”
I have been thinking about this concept lately, but how this was worded made me think about my own work.
I have always believed that we need to develop kids as not only the leaders of tomorrow but also as leaders today.
But I also want kids to be kids.
I want them to experience childhood. Of course, this includes my kids, but this is something I wish for all students.
Sometimes I think about my childhood and how many of my parent’s struggles were shielded me from so I could enjoy my youth.
When I was in high school, I remember my parents saying, “If you want to play sports and not work at the (our family) restaurant, we want you to be dedicated to the team and put in maximum effort.”
My parents didn’t have a bunch of money when I was young, and they sacrificed a lot for me to play sports as a kid. Many of those lessons learned in working with others, leadership, and the importance of hard work, still stick with me today. But this was learned through something that I cannot experience in the same way today.
I remember talking to my dad about it when I was older and asking why they didn’t expect me to work at the restaurant. He said, “You can work all of your life, but this is the only time you can play high school sports.”
That stuck with me and still does.
There are a lot of problems and issues in the world, and I struggle with the idea of developing kids as “problem finders and solvers” versus leaving the vast majority of those issues for the adults. I am not saying it is an either/or, but I think it is essential to wrestle with these thoughts.
I see many posts on social media (and I have shared them myself) on getting kids fully involved in changing today’s world. I wouldn’t want to stop a student from doing that, but I also think about the line between “opening a door” versus pushing them through it.
There is a quote from the movie “My Dog Skip” that I think about often as a parent:
“Why in childhood and youth do we wish time to pass so quickly – we want to grow up so fast – yet as adults we wish just the opposite?”
Can kids change the world and make it a better place? Absolutely.
But I want to ensure that we also give every kid the opportunity to be a kid.
Once time is gone from a childhood, there is no opportunity to get it back.