I was listening to a program on CBC about high school students volunteering. I was taken aback by one of the panelists repeating, “…students… during their high school career…”
When did high school become a career? And then I remembered my nieces and nephews in elementary school and realized their education resembled a career too. Every day, my nephews came home from school with a heavy load of assignments as well as projects. Two to three times a week, we had to go shopping for various events at the school. This was in Iran, and my other niece and nephew in Germany go through the same. This is during the school period, but summer is not much different as kids have to attend all sorts of classes and camps and …
What happened to good old carefree childhoods? I remembered my school days and the annoying homework we had to write or memorize every day. But there were also endless summer days where we would run out of ideas on what to do with our time. We played a lot, and we had to think quite hard to come up with ways to spend time. Games, competitions, plays (I mean staging plays in the basement), … would cover only so much of 24 hours which we intended to spend fully awake. The parents’ demands on mandatory afternoon naps… Not that they were ever met by us, but their mere existence bothered us.
I didn’t learn much in summer in terms of formal training though some of my friends did. But I got to read a lot, to spend a lot of time on my own reflecting (on whatever kids reflect on), daydream, and do things I liked. I made a cooking book with photo accompanied recipes copied/cut from various magazines. I made drawings of garments for women (I wanted to be a fashion designer and an astronaut and … the list was updated on a weekly basis). I read so many novels and stories. And I got bored quite a lot. Through all these, I learned how to manage my time partly because nobody managed it for me.
I was listening to another program where some financial adviser encouraged parents to talk about savings and financial planning when taking their (elementary school age) children on a walk in the park!
I feel bad for children today. They get into the ‘real world’ or models of it too soon. There is no doubt they have to work, they have to earn money, … at some point. Why does it have to be so soon? They are encouraged, if not sometimes pressured, to get into work force to earn money to afford things adults have.
I look at teens, and compared to my times, they seem to have a lot more. They have jobs, income, cars (at least they drive), …. But often most of these have become possible by missing out on one thing they will never get a second chance to have: an old-fashioned, carefree, idle childhood.