Earlier this month I spent an eye-opening 3 days helping to deliver the ‘Learn to Earn Personal Economics’ programme to teenagers at comprehensive schools in my local area. The program is the brainchild of ‘Young Enterprise’ and is designed to empower less privileged students to start planning for tomorrow, today.
I was one of the volunteers encouraging pupils to really think about what they wanted to do with their lives. For many it was the first time they had truly thought about it. A worrying number of pupils had no real goals, no idea of what job they would like to do, and certainly no idea what qualifications they would require.
We encouraged them to dream. Using various games and role plays we encouraged them to consider what success meant to them. We looked at bank accounts, tax, credit cards and loans, what they might earn and how to reach their goals. Fundamentally we were hoping to help the students make a connection between education, training and their future lives.
Most students really got it and were totally engaged. Some others less so! The best feedback I received was “I didn’t realise I had so many choices that I can make”. For the first time this young lady really felt she had opportunities available to her. That’s so important in this world where we are continuously surrounded by bad news. It’s easy for any of us to feel disheartened, but if we can encourage our young people’s natural optimism then that is a worthwhile thing.
The aims of the program are admirable and many pupils started to realise the impacts that various decisions would make on their lives. For some the challenge of developing a belief that they can do anything, and shifting aspirations, will continue. But hopefully the session gave them food for thought. I certainly have a deep respect for the teachers facing the challenge of helping these students develop every day.