Today I spent some time documenting a conversation taking place between a group of preschool boys as they were painting. Ironically they brought up a topic that I have been spending some time thinking about recently. One day last week I was sitting in on a parent/teacher conference when the father mentioned that his son had said that when he grows up he wants to be a squirrel. As I was driving home that evening I was smiling to myself about this child’s creative thinking and reflecting on some of the teaching I had been exposed to recently during my trip to Reggio Emilia. The educators there spoke to us about the culture of the children and how so often we impose the adult culture on them. I thought about the question that is frequently posed to children, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” I love that in the culture of the children there are often no limits, in fact, you can become a squirrel if you would like. How do we expect them to understand that in the adult culture we often determine our value or “who we are” based on our occupation? Just to help us all keep it in perspective, here is a brief excerpt of the conversation I heard today:
J: You know what I’m going to be when I grow up? An artist.
S: I’m going to be everything. I’m going to be a company, an artist, a storyteller.
C: I’m going to be a policeman.
J: What if your boss fires you?
S: I’ll do a freeze ray on him.
Do you remember what you hoped “to be” when you grew up?