The “I have a dream” conversation

Cascaid blogged earlier on an all too familiar issue for those of us that provide guidance services to school age children.

So how can teachers and advisers tackle unrealistic career ideas, especially where it may be affecting a young person’s achievement, e.g., their effort in certain subjects suffers because they feel that they won’t need it in their future career?

The line of questioning I take on this, when speaking to students one to one about their Post 16 routes who are interested in creative or talent based routes, is to get them to show me their online presence.

So, for example, if a student expresses their wish to become a photographer, I’ll ask to see their flickr channel.

For students who dream of being musicians, ask them to show you their soundcloud or their bandcamp page.

For writers, ask to see their wordpress blog.

For film makers, say you would like to check out their vimeo channel. The same for actors or dancers. Where are their show reels?

In the vast majority of cases, they won’t have one, so I’ll do a quick search and show them the flicker channel of someone who is a talented photographer or the vimeo channel of a short film maker.

This achieves two things. Firstly, it shows them the level of technical proficiency out there, it opens their eyes to the level of competition and secondly, it leads you into a conversation about how are they promoting themselves and their work and if they’re not doing anything to promote themselves then how far do they realistically expect to go. Stop saying you want to be a musician and start being one. Challenge them to discuss when the “I want to be…” turn into “I am….”

Sometimes examples of young success stories can motivate as well, those who through embracing the internet to showcase their talents make early headway. A great example is the photographer Olivia Bee whose Flickr channel was noticed by advertising agencies who then offered her work. She was fifteen.

Or Jake Bugg. Or Nick D’Aloisio .

(Who? You ask)

This kid

There are plenty of examples. Some might inspire, but some might inject the shot of realism needed in the plan and force the conversation to back up plans or alternatives.

A valid criticism of this approach though, would be that this conversation comes too soon for many and they should be concentrating on passing exams and other fun teenage stuff rather than realistically furthering their career aspirations. And there’s a truth to that.  But I think the value in having this conversation comes from opening their eyes to bar to be reached if they want to achieve those embryonic goals. And sometimes, just once in while, a student will answer the initial question with a “Sure.”

“Yes,” they’ll say, “here’s my band’s Youtube channel” or “here’s my Trigger Street Labs profile.”

And you will be surprised by suddenly being presented with the most wonderful short film or cover of a song and, by the end of the session, you’ll be convinced that, maybe, just maybe, they have a chance of their dream.


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