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« Self-exploration: The watchword technique | Main | Stretching minds to see the possible »

October 21, 2004




Good rant! I think we do have to reach our kids earlier in life. I am fortunate that neither of my parents expected me to do something in particular for a living. I remember my dad telling me: if you want to be a janitor, fine, just be a good janitor. Needless to say, I'm not a janitor, but he made his point with me.

On a side note, I was at a job fair the other day and I couldn't believe this one company that was trying to sell its jobs to us. It involved a lot of telemarketing and cold calls. As a motivating factor they mentioned the potential for a 6 figure salary, bonuses, sports cars, trips, etc.

I think its great to be money motivated- we all have to put food on the table. But somewhere in there, our happiness needs to be a factor.

Rebecca Thomas

If I may, I think part of it is when a young person comes to you and says, "Hi, I'd like to step outsdie the mold," the first reaction is to choke and try to save the young person from their own foolishness. At least, that's what I'm guessing drove my professors' protests during my undergrad work when I calmly informed them that I was going into museum education instead of an elementary classroom.

It's not that these teachers want to squash the dreams (well, not all of them at any rate). It's that they are drawing from their own experiences, which may not include anything outside of the proverbial box.


The primary thing about school is that it is a place of socialization and the best definition of socialization is from the author of Flow: "Socialization, or the transformation of a human organism into a person who functions successfully within a particular social system, cannot be avoided. The essence of socialization is to make people dependent on social controls, to have them respond predictably to rewards and punishments. And the most effective form of socialization is achieved when people identify so thoroughly with the social order that they no longer can imagine themselves breaking any of its rules."

The box is a Skinner box and most people have forgotten that they are not a half-starved rat and they don't HAVE to push the bar that might give them food this time.

It is so very hard to get out of that because everyone else are like the crabs in a basket. You don't have to cover a crab basket if one crab tries to get out the others will pull him back in.

Keep up the good work Curt.


Excellent rant! I agree that educational institutions for the most part fail in leading students to an understanding of what type of career or careers they should pursue. This is partially due to the fact that they too operate as businesses and not charities. I am fighting within the system of a college and do see hope in the students I interact with but again I may be the exception.

I also appreciate your definition of passion. My particular passion ironically is to help people discover their passion, their purpose.

One quick comment concerning this quote from your post above - "The very institutions they are paying to prepare them for their careers and expand their horizons are blatantly ignoring the question, "What's going to make you happy."

I'm not sure our jobs or lives are about happiness - the pursuit of happiness to me seems somewhat empty. Happiness is mere emotion - something that changes like the season. I love what I do, I love to teach but it doesn't always make me happy, in fact it sometimes makes me angry.

A better or perhaps more accurate pursuit would be finding a purpose or meaning to your life. Many people from a faith-based perspective call this "a calling" but regardless of your belief or disbelief in something bigger than you - i think it is a worthy pursuit.

I teach a number of leadership oriented classes in which I assess personality traits, potential leadership strengths & weaknesses, temperaments, etc. but the one thing I keep finding is that it really does not matter which gifts or strengths a person has - rather it is what a person does with the gifts they have.

Everyone has the potential to change the world in someway but it takes effort and response. Leadership is best defined by our actions to a given crisis or leadership opportunity.

Take my rant for what its worth! I'm a fellow adventurer - I climb occasionally, whitewater paddle when I can, and mtn bike like an addict.

Avi Solomon

Most schools are prisons for children to keep them out of the way of the 'adult world'-perfect factory 'division of labour' in the name of efficiency-the children pay the price.Kids can only really learn by paricipating(at their own pace) in the real world.
I have friends who took their kids with them on a trip around the world for 2 years who say that their children learnt more about life during that trip than they would ever learn even after spending(wasting) a lifetime in school!


Great rant and fascinating discussion. I was most interested in your anecdote about the high school teacher who gets in trouble for helping kids follow their hearts (I think this is different than following your dreams..."your heart" seems more connected to who you really are). When it comes to future vocations or general aspirations, parents often drop the ball in helping their kids figure out who they are.

It's sad, because we are uniquely qualified to observe and reflect on our child's true nature, but we love our kids so much that we want to protect them from risk, poverty, and disappointment. But it's looking like the old "safe paths" aren't the sure thing they once were.

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