Rethinking the Career Day Celebration in Basic Schools
Marking of career day in schools has fast become a common practice in many nursery, kindergarten and basic schools in Ghana. For what it signifies, the day offers school children an explicable connection between their would-be long academic experience and their career. In other words, the day presents to the many young burgeoning minds somewhat alluring options of the end of their stay in school.
The day is often symbolized with school children made to dress or robe in the apparels of their favored future professions—of course with considerable influence of parents or guardians.
While the practice is increasingly occupying a special position on the calendar of many schools and is almost regarded as a distinguishing feature of a progressive and modish educational institution, the celebration presents quite a worrying observation for me.
For many of the school children, the career day’s celebration remains their earliest and formative conceptualization of the range of career options available to them. Also, given their young minds that often absorbs faster visible, symbolic and demonstrable lessons, the school children learn easier with what they see and can feel. Therefore, what career would mean to these young minds is more likely to be what their parents dressed them to be or what they saw their friends wear to school.
Consequently, following many of the career day celebrations, the definition or conceptualization of career for the young mind would only mean a Doctor, Nurse, Lawyer, Pharmacist, Plumber, Teacher, Bank Manager, Contractor—or any of the field with distinguishable uniforms.
The career day celebration as it is today presents quite a limited and narrow space of work and fields for the expansion and utilization of a young child’s talents and capabilities. In a diverse and ever-changing world of work facilitated by technology, the boxing of a young child’s imagination of work, career and development is problematic as it is counterproductive.
Whilst growing up, the question “what do you want to become in the future” was a difficult one to answer. This is because its answer was meant to inform whoever was asking whether you had a purpose for your unending schooling days. The question was more troubling if the questioner was your parent or guardian because it could inform him/her of your worthiness of the resources being expended on you. What, however, made the question far more difficult was that society and our educational system had presented a very limited scope of career choices available for us and one had to convince himself that he fitted in the available options.
The career day celebration reinforces the age-old limited perception of career and workspace. How’s the web-designer, artist manager, football agent, the boxing ring announcer, the journalist, the university lecturer supposed to dress? For convenience, depending on what I was reading in school at the time, I answered the question on career with Bank Manager, Lawyer and Businessman. Today I work in a Press Freedom Organisation and I wonder how a Press Freedom Advocate would dress like.
For its objective, career day celebrations in schools is a great concept. However, schools must free the marking of the day from dress-ups and make-ups to meet the stereotypes of career choices. Rather the school children should be made to know about the varying, changing and unlimited space of work that can accommodate their innumerable talents and capabilities. Children must be left to grow and develop into their changing personalities, talents, skills and appreciation of the world around them—free from limitations and stereotypes.