“If you don’t know where you are going…”

“If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.”

Lewis Carroll

Earlier this week I was asked what job I wanted when I was a school pupil. The answer (for anyone interested) was a veterinarian, I later modified this to museum curator (preferably one of the big ones with lots of different departments). Clearly plans changed from all creatures great and small and I chose to study archaeology. As it turned out I am neither a vet nor a curator. This is the time of year when our older pupils start to receive offers from universities, what was theoretical last term is becoming all the more real now. Progress along the road of life is not necessarily linear or predictable, some will be delighted with the success of their applications but in an ever more competitive world others will take a knock or two before they find their way. A few may be left wondering what might have been. If previous years are anything to go by most will end up on a path that they find both exciting and fulfilling.

Mr. Potter did some valuable research for me regarding career aspirations in Reception. It turns out that babysitter; racing car driver; fast jet pilot; snowman; rock star; builder and mummy; superhero; motorcycle racer; ballerina, daddy; artist; policeman, and vet are the careers of choice for some of our younger pupils. I wonder what, after fourteen or so years of education, they will consider. Judging by their energy, the sky is most definitely the limit although I do worry about the longevity and career prospects for snowmen.

Amanda Gorman recites her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” during the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. (DOD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)

If we are to believe social media, there are lots of very capable and popular people doing glamorous and exciting things each day. The truth is often more prosaic but there is little doubt that pressure to be seen to succeed is more and more prevalent than ever. The public version of lives lived receives a rather different form of curation than I ever envisaged in the late 1980s. I don’t generally follow many people on social media but one channel that I have looked at recently is that of US Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. I’m not quite sure how I would advise pupils how to be a poet, who combines high level intellectual endeavour and a career as a top model, but she has managed it and inspirationally positive about the possibilities of life. The beauty of this is that I don’t have to try and explain how to do all of these things, the answer is there explained in her magnificent words. She is also very candid about her mother’s reaction to her declaration in response to the question; what do you want to be? I’m not sure her mother predicted quite the success that she has earned.

Current events may well lead some of our pupils to consider careers in medicine or public service. Others will grasp all that is offered by new technology or academia and we will have our share of creatives. I hope that we will see the growth of a courageous generation who are well equipped to meet the challenge of what is to come, certainly we as a school community look forward to both challenging and supporting our young people to grow and to flourish. In Amanda Gorman they have a role model who perhaps offers something more than the usual social media celebrities.

Nicholas Hammond