Aspiring Enterprise – shattering preconceptions

Nov 15, 2012 by

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I was recently asked if I would participate in the Aspiring Enterprise day at the local secondary school and was delighted to accept and attended yesterday.

The year 10’s present had just undergone a bridge building exercise when I arrived, I think it was about team work and problem solving, and whilst not sure exactly what materials they’d been given it looked like straws and paper were the main ingredients.  One of the bridges held 4.7 kg in weight.  Now still being a gal who prefers to work in pounds and ounces even I know that is more than two bags of sugar!  Needless to say I was impressed.  Then I sat at a table where their bridge was no more than a sheet of A4 spanning the tables with some straws taped on in a cross shape.  I doubt it would have held my sugar spoon.  I found it interesting that of the 250 plus year 10’s in the room I could already see contrasts.

I’ve just had to go through the scary process of choosing which secondary my 10 year old will go to next September.  This decision could make a huge difference to whether she gets to follow the path of her dream career in the future – when she finally decides on one that is.  I wanted to make sure that she went to a school where she had a range of options available to her, but also a school where she would be encouraged to follow her choice of path.

I should perhaps point out this is a sore point with me as my careers officer knocked any dreams out of my head rather quickly and left me with the impression I was good for nothing but shop work or a junior office role.  Not once did anyone ever suggest I may one day become my own boss.  It took me nearly 25 years to escape from the negativity of that career officer and even now I still have ‘wobble’ days where I wonder if I am good enough for this.

The Aspiring Enterprise activity I took part in consisted of the year 10’s being put into groups of 10 and each having an ’employer’ with them, they were then allowed to ask us 10 questions which could only have a Yes/No answer and from these guess what our job was.  If there was sufficient time left when they’d guessed they could then ask us anything they liked about our job.

I’d gone along under my author/publisher hat which was quite an interesting one for some of the kids.  Some of the groups asked such intelligent questions, mind you only one of them asked me if I worked globally, most of them seemed to focus on if I worked in York.  I think what I found disappointing about the whole thing is that too many of the groups wanted to pigeon hole me in menial roles.  If I didn’t work in an office then I must work in a shop or be a care worker.  It took me straight back to my careers teacher telling me that’s all I was good for.  Several of the groups never even considered that I may be self employed.  I found that really sad.

However, the highlight of the day for me were the groups who asked some fantastic questions, not all guessed what I did, but more did than I’d anticipated, and those who looked at me in awe when they found out what I did.  That’s an amazing feeling.

I am passionate that the next generation grow up believing that they can be whatever they want to be, providing they put in the work, and that there are so many opportunities available to them.   I want them to grow up loving their job.  Too many people I know don’t love their work and it’s so sad to see.  I absolutely love my work and wouldn’t change it for the world.

So come on education, teach our kids to be achievers, believers and to dream.

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  1. Good that the school invited you to speak to the children though Helen. A move in the right direction towards inspiring their youngsters.

    Extending boundries and planting dream-seeds however, should be one of those pervasive aspects of nurturing like ‘teaching children to look both ways before crossing the road’. Occasional exposure to the possibilities isn’t meaningful enough for most children … I believe, like you do, that they need to know they have unlimited opportunities in their lives, at every twist and turn of the road.

    I hope the school followed through after your visit, by perhaps involving the children in an amalgamated effort to create their very own digital book which could be available for download from Kindle, for their families and friends.

    That would be something which could solidify the experience. Every single child could contribute something to the project … writing, proof-reading, illustrating, photography, IT etc etc. You could be their very own business consultant and guide the whole process … wouldn’t that be fun.

    :O) @LadyBizBiz
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