How I got there is a little more complicated.
This spring, the 2009 crop of high school seniors will graduate (barring any last minute mistakes on their part… and I am watching). As educators we want these students to have a plan.
An exact detailed step by step plan of what they are going to do with their lives from this point forward.
From my experience most 18 year olds don’t think any farther ahead than approximately 4 minutes into the future (of course 4 minutes is an average, boys would be less… much much less… and as someone who has a daughter, this is a bit frightening).
Teachers (as do I) are always asking students what they are going to do with their lives once they graduate.
College, military, or get a job. 3 choices.
As educators, we seem to prefer they pick college. I assume that’s because college is the path we took (I am also aware of what happens when you assume).
We want them to choose from these 3 choices and stick with it. For the next 50 years.
I am not sure of the logic behind this because most of us had no idea what we wanted to do when we were 18 (17 in my case… which was way too young to be making any decisions not involving cheeseburgers, sports, or a Def Leppard concert).
I often wonder if we have unrealistic expectations for graduating seniors. After all, most will change their minds in the first 6 months after they leave high school.
Sometimes, I think they just give us the answer we want to hear regarding their future plans.
As I stumble through life I think about this as I meet people.
Did the guy at the gas station always have the dream to sell me PowerAde and donuts?
Is the lady at the dry cleaners living out her lifelong goal of ironing shirts for 9 hours a day?
How long has the UPS driver who delivers to my house wanted to drive a truck and wear an ugly brown uniform (although wearing shorts to work in the summer is a pretty nice benefit)?
I point out these examples not to take anything away from them. All of these people seem both happy and nice (goals that we should all have).
They are everyday people who do every day jobs. Obviously, by our way of thinking they must not have had a specific plan when they were seniors in high school.
And that’s okay.
They are good people who have jobs. More importantly they are good citizens who are making society better, not worse.
We all interact with people who probably aren’t pursuing their high school dream job.
In fact, I am one of them.
My plan wasn’t to be a school administrator who writes semi-coherent blogs.
Yes, I know you are shocked. Please take a moment a compose yourself.
My plan when I was a high school senior was… actually, I didn’t have a plan. But I told the people who asked that I did.
My goal, up to that point, was to play major league baseball. It turned out I wasn’t good enough. Who knew (other than the college and professional scouts)?
That is how I ended up going to college and getting a business degree. Why college and a business degree? I have no idea.
Like most teenagers I just picked something so adults would stop asking me.
Plus, it was the mid 80’s and Michael Douglas seemed really cool in the movie Wall Street.
The good news…I graduated. The bad news…after 4 years of college I was again getting asked what I wanted to do with my life.
I remember thinking that I just went through this whole “pick a career” thing a few years earlier. What a vicious circle.
So I took jobs that in which I didn’t really have any interest (when I could find them). Then I woke up when I was 26 and got really lucky.
I knew how to throw a curveball (evidently, just not a good one).
Actually, I had known how to throw a curveball since I was 12, but it took awhile for this skill to become useful.
My curveball wasn’t good enough to get me into the majors, but it did get me a job as an assistant junior high baseball coach.
One of my old coaches needed help and I knew how to throw a curveball.
After a few practices, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I liked kids, school, sports, coaches, and summers off.
If you count 26 years as not long.
So I went back to college with an actual plan. And when I told people what I wanted to do with my life I actually meant it.
And that’s how I became a teacher.
Which has led to everything else.
I wish I could have told my high school teachers this story when I was a senior. My life plan is going to be based on the skills I learned in Little League.
And that will eventually lead to me writing a blog about education.
From now on, I may just tell high school seniors that life has a funny way of just working out.
**Note from wife…I got pretty lucky too. You see he was graduating college with that business degree when I was in 8th grade. Obviously that would have been an awkward romantic relationship. When PrincipalsPage decided to return to college I was a sophomore who just so happened to be in the same history class. The rest really is history!