There seems to be a minority of people in the world who say, “I’m really lucky. I get to do what I enjoy most each day… and I get paid for it!” Everyone else goes to ‘work’, and passions and interests have to fit into the leftover hours of the working week.
Wouldn’t you love your children to be in that minority, and end up in a career they are absolutely passionate about?
How does a child know what to do after school? When someone asked me that question when I was in my final year of school, I answered, “I don’t know.” I had no real idea of what I was interested in. I ended up studying for a Bachelor of Science degree, not because I loved science, but because I was told science would be a good career choice.
After I graduated, I worked in a research department of a university. Although the work was quite interesting, I didn’t wake up each day, thinking, “Wow, another day!” I didn’t jump out of bed saying, “What will I discover today? I can’t wait to find out.” No. Most mornings I thought, “Is it Friday yet?”
What was I passionate about in my high schooling days? It’s hard to remember. I went to school all day and did mountains of homework during the other hours. Andy and I played squash every now and then (we went to school together), I dabbled a bit with craft, I read novels… that’s all I can recall. That’s probably all I could fit into my schooling week. I didn’t have enough free time to experiment and try new things out, to see what I enjoyed and discover what I was good at. I didn’t really have time for passions because I was too busy doing what I was told to do.
A year or so ago, I asked Imogen if she had any ideas about a possible career, and she replied, “Well… I like music, but medicine sounds good too, and then there’s writing.” Imogen actually had too many passions and it was a tough decision narrowing down her choice.
Imogen used to be very involved with St John Ambulance (as were most of my children). Her interest in medicine was nurtured as she administered first-aid to injured people at sporting and other public events. Surrounded by St John’s officers and nurses and doctors, she got to experience what it would be like to work in a medical field. Being a homeschooler, she was able to accept many extra duties during official school hours.
But Imogen has always been surrounded by music too. Music is as natural as breathing in our house…
“Who’s singing the psalm on Sunday?”
“How did your practice go?”
“Can we get together and run through Sunday’s music?”
“Are you going to choir practice tonight?”
“Would you like to come and see me perform?”
“What time are our piano lessons?”
And then there’s writing. We all spend hours experimenting with words, and sharing the results.
Medicine, music, writing… Imogen could pursue any of these. There are many things she could do as a career. She has lots of big passions (and lots of smaller ones too).
How do we nurture our children’s passions? I think time is a very important part of the answer. Here, unschoolers are at an advantage. Our children have loads of time to be themselves, to explore the world, to experience anything and everything, to decide what they like and what they don’t, to determine where their talents and strengths lie… to do what they want to do. All this helps when someone asks, “What would you like to do as a career?”
“I think I’d like to be a writer, Mum,” says Imogen. “But I want to continue with my music.”
I smile. I am sure Imogen will end up doing something she really enjoys. She will love her work and therefore excel at it. And she’ll even get paid for doing it… Unless of course she ends up writing for the sheer joy of it all. For when you really enjoy working, money doesn’t seem to matter at all.
But time does matter. For without time, how do our children ever discover who they are and what they are good at? How do they discover their passions?