You know that standardized test they give kids in middle school that is supposed to predict the job they’ll be best at? That test told me that I’d make a good lawyer. And I became a good lawyer. But I was also a stressed-out, unhappy lawyer. I eventually left the practice of law to write. (Was “humorist” even on that test? I doubt it.)
Now that I’m no longer practicing law, I’ve got plenty of time to listen to NPR, which has made me aware of lots of other jobs that that little test never contemplated. I’ve also become more suspicious about standardized tests. They make for a standardized world, and who wants that?
So when your kid brings home test results advising her to become a CPA, throw them into the trash and hand her this list of actual jobs I heard about during a year of listening to NPR:
Professional arm wrestler
Lecturer in reggae studies
Yacht insurance agent
Admiralty chart corrector
Space weather forecaster
Marine mammals stranding coordinator
Professor of space medicine
Editor of the High Times Encyclopedia of Recreational Drugs
Curator of ants at Harvard’s Department of Comparative Zoology
What if your kid doesn’t want to grow up to curate ants? That’s not the point. We’re talking about our children’s futures! They should be awesome, not standardized. Fun! Amazing! Not ordinary and predictable.
Middle school is when their imaginations should soar, not shut down. Why should your daughter aim for nursing school when she could aim for space medicine? Let’s encourage our kids to think outside the box. Maybe your son will become a CPA anyway. But maybe he’ll end up with a job so cool that it makes listeners say “Wow!” when they hear about it on NPR.
This essay was originally published on April 5 at womensvoicesforchange.org.
Roz Warren is a humor writer whose work appears in The Funny Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Utne Reader and Beatniks from Space.