Because I am an academic most people would expect that my children would have been raised to believe that College or University was the certain route that one HAS to take after leaving high school. The notion of a gap year is acceptable just as long as there are plans to head into the ivory tower to pursue higher education.
As the title of this post indicates my boys aren’t going to College. My older son Levi is 20 so this will be the second year he won’t be attending college. My younger son Caleb is 18 so this would have been his first year in higher education but like his older brother is too isn’t going to College. I think that it is easier on them then it is on me because it is this time of year that find myself questioning my wife’s and my decision to raise our boys to follow their dreams and passions and to take risks rather then to the safe and certain thing like going to College. Both of my boys are pursuing their dreams of Down Hill mountain bike racing and finding some way to get paid to ride their bikes.
Seriously, they want to get paid to ride bikes. This year Levi raced as a Professional also referred as an Elite and Caleb raced as a Junior Elite so both of them are in a position to have careers as Pro riders. Unfortunately, unlike baseball, football, hockey or even road biking where professional athletes can make millions the sport of Down Hill mountain biking is so young and so extreme that only top Pros are making a reasonable living. Up an coming Pro racers like my boys have to find alternative ways to support their dreams until they can land a spot on a factory team and get some sort of an income.
But this is OK because the official racing season just ended this past weekend and both my boys have been brainstorming and exploring ways to raise money to get ready for next season. They are both looking at entrepreneurial ways to raise money—they are both looking at starting their own businesses. They have also started their off season training with intense rigour because they know they need to up their skills and ranking to get one of those few spots on a factory team. They are working harder then ever because there is no certainty in their dreams and their success is directly related to their level of commitment and hard work.
I also think that things will be OK after reading Seth Godin’s post Teaching Certainty where he points to fact that our society has put is faith in the school system that has perpetuated the certain belief that if you follow all the instructions, follow the syllabus, and do well on the test then:
After you repeat these steps obediently for more than ten years, there will be a placement office, where there will certainly be a job ready for you, with fixed hours and a career path.
But the harsh reality we are facing in our world today is that nothing is certain; we are living in a world of constant change. Godin warns:
We’ve trained people to be certain for years, and then launch them into a culture and an economy where relying on certainty does us almost no good at all.
Broken-field running, free range kids, the passionate desire to pick yourself—that seems like a more robust and resilient way to prepare, doesn’t it? Who’s teaching you what to do when the certain thing doesn’t happen?
If Godin is right then perhaps my wife and I have prepared our boys much better for this uncertain world. The odds are against them and many would find their dreams unrealistic but they both have the grit to keep on working and keep on picking themselves up. If Godin is right and uncertainty is the new norm then I can be glad that my boys aren’t going to College—at least not until they choose to use College as tool to help them pursue their dreams.
Godin, S. (2016, September 8). Teaching certainty. Retrieved September 14, 2016, from http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2016/09/teaching-certainty.html