Planning for the Future

So I sat down in front of my computer to write this week’s column, but all of my open tabs sort of called to me, and I started going through them instead. You guys. 

There are so many things to do when you have one kid in Grade 12 who is planning his graduation and his next year in university PLUS another kid in Grade 11 who is planning the rest of her life and is still a literal child PLUS a stepdaughter who is getting married in August and with whom I am conspiring about how we are going to get her father into a real suit (this father-of-the-bride would really like to show up in leather pants and studded wrist bands. If you think I’m exaggerating, think again. His fashion sense peaked in 1989). 

I worked through a couple of emails about a possible internship for the Grade 11 child, a few links to scholarship applications for the Grade 12 child, and a whole catalogue of suits that will convince my husband that he still looks rock n’ roll. And now I’m here with you, wondering how anyone thought that having older kids is less busy than having toddlers.

I won’t lie; I love it all. I am living vicariously through my two high schoolers, who want to do the most exciting things, things that I never even considered when I was seventeen. But also, I feel like it was much more straightforward when I was seventeen. You chose the university that was closest, for one thing. You studied the same careers that had been around for quite some time, and then you graduated and did those things.

But now, the kids are studying things that will hopefully prepare them for careers that HAVEN’T BEEN INVENTED YET. How do you even choose a major when technology is turning everything on its head every other day? It seems like a lot of pressure on our schools, on our kids, and, above all, on these poor parents pretending that we know what we are talking about.

One thing I do appreciate about this brave new world is that my kids are way more interesting and well-rounded than I was at the same age. They have access to everything – tutorials, courses, TikTok dances, you name it. For example, my son is going into computer science this coming school year, but he also has written novels and scripts and finished a filmmaking internship.

But the other side of it is that sometimes there are too many choices. How do you narrow it down? When I was in high school, I saw the movie Silence of the Lambs and thought I might like to go into criminology. Why? Because I enjoyed watching a scary movie. But then I remembered that actually I’m passionate about early childhood education and also already accepted into the bachelor program. So I just kept reading Thomas Harris’s novels on my free time and that sort of fulfilled my fascination with criminal psychology.

But with my kids, they could study one thing and end up doing a completely different thing. Their wide scope of interests could come in very handy one day. So I keep encouraging them to explore a lot of different things while pursuing their educational goals. None of which I know very much about. I just hope that when my son develops something groundbreaking in artificial intelligence technology, it won’t try to wipe us all off the planet.

I guess my point is, the next time you find yourself complaining about how you never use your Grade 11 knowledge on polynomial equations, remember this little one-sided chat we are having. We may not know how our kids will use many of the advanced concepts they learn in high school, but we do know that they are teaching them how to think.

Is practical information important? Absolutely yes. Our kids should ALSO be taught how to do their taxes and tie their shoes (unless we’re committed to velcro). However, given the fact that things are changing and developing at head-spinning speeds, our kids better be prepared and able to think in flexible, well-rounded ways. As they begin to go out there and live their lives, they are going to make choices we never had to make. We better help them prepare in every way we can.


  • Leza Warkentin

    I have been living and teaching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since the turn of the century. I am a Canadian with a musician-Mexican husband and two Mexican-Canadian patas saladas who are growing up way too fast.

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