Monday, June 22, 2009

Alternative Training

A PhD psychologist I worked with years ago mentioned that it was common in Jewish families in the circles he had grown up in to have sons trained in a craft or trade in addition to their academic expectations. He himself had been trained as a jeweler before going on to university in psychology, and thought this had been all to the good. It had helped put him through graduate school. There had been a five-year stretch when he didn't want to be a psychologist, and he had worked as a jeweler most of the time, while keeping some part-time work in his academic field. Whenever he moved, he could usually secure at least some income from the craft, supporting himself while he established his practice.

The idea sounded wise, and attractive, but I never did that with any of my sons.

Recently a father at church who works in a medical field wondered if he should send his sons to a six-month or one-year training to be a medical technician that does sleep studies, or x-rays, or phlebotomy. They don't take that long, are solid respectable professions, and are unlikely to go obsolete in the near future. Also, they give a young man - presumably women as well - a different perspective than other students might have, providing some inoculation against the idiocies of college.

We have one more boy that we're bringing up now, one whose academic interests do not seem obvious at the moment, though they are likely to be in creative, verbal tasks. I wonder if we should consider such a strategy as well.

Comments appreciated.


Terro said...

Actually, having a craft or fallback job sounds like an excellent idea, but I imagine it must depend on the son's attitude toward it. It would certainly be silly to study for even a year something that one is not interested in at all. However, pausing to learn about the real world for a year or so before moving on to college studies is also a good idea. I recommend a stint in the military to learn focus and responsibility, traits many college students, in my experience, lack.

Retriever said...

I agree, And it should be a skill, not just generic clerical or library work (as I alway did when unable to work in my profession). One of mine has begun the EMS tech training while in college. The other started the nurse's aide training program, but had to drop out because of illness. Being loving and gentle girls, they re both good at looking after kids (sorry, sexist, I know) so they can always fall back on babysitting or day care.

None of my kids have any interest in making more than subsistence wages ( they think I will hold onto my house in a good school district for feckless them???), but I have at least taught them that tho all three want to be writers (sigh: that and a dollar'll get you on the subway) they have to have a day job. Plus, with the girls, that they have to be self-supporting so they stay with spouse for love, not for a meal ticket.

Gringo said...

Many people of accomplishment followed a hobby/love interest developed during childhood into a productive career.

An astute parent/caregiver will discern where a child's interests/abilities lie, and encourage steps in that direction.

Also note that many children are at a stage where they really need the adult input in pursuing something, even if they don't want to admit it. I don't mean adult micromanaging- that is ultimately counterproductive to inner motivation- but rather a touch of encouragement can go a long way.

What do you like, what are you good at, and how can we assist you along that path.

Lelia said...

I apprenticed my oldest son to a printer for a year. It took an hour of discussion before the man realized that I really meant that my son would not be paid and I would not sue if my son got hurt. He later closed for lack of business, but my son learned many things that later helped in his art career. Commercial art. I have a nephew who is a fine artist in New York, but his income is from designing websites. My son's income is from being a level artist for GuildWars.

GraniteDad said...

Plumbing/Electrical. I wish I had done that. Average age in the industry is above 55 now, I could be making a good living. And my job wouldn't move to Albuquerque.

Lelia, that's really cool.

DirtyJobsGuy said...

It was common in European jews because the profession could be closed off to Jews in an instant. Liese Meinter the Nobel prize winning discoverer of uranium fission with Otto Hahn, was told by her father to get a basic teachers training in addition to her theoretical physics work for just that reason. I tell this story to my daughter, who is entering the University for geology to purse a life long desire to hunt dinosaurs! She can always teach!

The head of BMW said the same thing about his commercial drivers license saying he could always drive a bus if his corporate career went away. The best thing would be a trade that pays reasonably with short training that is a backstop for a more speculative profession.

Donna B. said...

Some may laugh, but my daughters learned by being waitresses.

To be a good waitress (um, I think "server" is the currently respectable term) one must be able to pay attention, read people, respond appropriately, and solve problems.

Whether they then become CEOs or lawyers or military officers, this skill is handy.

btw, one daughter became a military officer, the other a lawyer.

If analyzed to the core, all work is service.

OBloodyHell said...

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects."

- Lazarus Long(R. A. Heinlein) -

OBloodyHell said...

> To be a good waitress (um, I think "server" is the currently respectable term)

Stand fast! Don't let the PC Thought Police have an inch!!

Waitresses it is and should be.