Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bore Your Kids Day

Tomorrow is "Take Your Daughter/Son to Work" day. Yippee. I'd forgotten about it since I really don't pay attention to these things, but by happenstance today's WSJ was delivered to us, and I read one of the columnists' pieces on the subject. Of course, he had his own take on it (generally negative), but then he posed to his readers the question of whether or not the day is worthwhile.

My answer: It depends. Had there been such a thing when I was of junior/senior high age, it could have been interesting. My father worked for a major company (which no longer exists) which was part of the original Bell family, first in tool and die, but later he moved up to something more akin to an engineering position, doing time/efficiency studies and things of that sort. There was only one time that I recall going to visit his place of employment, and that was when they had some sort of family day on the weekend. I was able to look around and see where he worked and so on, but it really didn't give me any idea (at least, none that I can recall) of what he actually did, or what other types of positions were available within that industry, if not at that particular plant. So, I think that I could have benefited from a visit to his work during working hours and seeing what actually went on there.

Other children could also benefit from a day visit to dad's (or mom's) place of employment, if (no doubt you divined this sentence would be conditional :) it were an interesting or inspiring profession - doctor/nurse, engineer, lawyer, reporter, etc. But how many children would fall into that category? How many parents work at a job where they're bored out of their gourd? How inspiring would it be to spend a day at a place like that? It would provide little incentive to get an education, and the kid would probably come away thinking that being a beach bum sounds a lot better.

Granted, somebody has to do the boring jobs. But most parents have greater aspirations for their children than waitressing (which, I concede, wouldn't necessarily be boring, especially if a lot of alcohol gets served - but even if it gets exciting like that, it would hardly be stimulating or intellectually challenging) or custodial work. Many parents, particularly immigrant ones, break their backs at menial or tedious jobs in order to have enough money to provide a decent education for their offspring, thus giving them the opportunity to have a better life than their parents. I salute such parents; it saddens me when these same kids are clueless regarding their parents' sacrifice, and squander the opportunity.

Rather than have "take your kid to work" day, I would prefer to see the development of some sort of cooperative program between a local high school and the professionals in the community. Not necessarily some work-study type of thing, but more along the lines of a mentoring relationship, or an extracurricular special interest club - something that would allow teens to see how studying x, y, and z are useful (if not necessary) in the field of medicine, engineering, or whatever. I think that that would drive home the relationship between what is learned in the classroom, and what goes on in real life far better than the current crop of dumbed-down textbooks that try to cover everything but teach nothing. I know that I could have benefited from such a program, instead of spending a number of years knowing my interests but never being able to figure out how to utilize them in gainful employment.

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