Recent discussion in the comments of this blog about poverty reminded me of a caller I heard on a local radio show I heard within the last year. The caller was a teacher and he shared the results of an assignment he has always done with students in his 30 years of teaching in an urban school district.
He said that he has always done this assignment to encourage his students to think about their futures and how they will earn their keep.
The first part of the exercise is to think about and write down the things they may want to have someday — homes, cars, jewelry, boats, etc. In the second part of the assignment, they think about what they’ll do to afford those things — like earn money as a nurse, or firefighter or start a business.
He then commented on how he has seen the responses to that exercise change over the years.
In his early years, his students would want to become nurses, firefighters and teachers to be able to earn money to buy what they want.
But, now he’s more likely to get these types of responses: I’ll just use the check or card that comes from the government to buy it, like Mom does.
I doubt much has changed. My guess is that the students normally say they’ll do whatever it is they see their parents or aunts and uncles doing. The future nurses of 20 years ago probably had a Mom who was a nurse.
Which reminds me of this post where I linked to and quoted from a Wall Street Journal piece by Arthur Brooks about earned success and learned helplessness.
It also reminds me of the story Dr. Carson told in his speech about how his Mom would not allow Dr. Carson or his brother to accept excuses for their failures or their lot in life.