Saturday, June 12, 2010

Where Are All The Craftsmen?

I would like to share with you some personal and professional insight on a deeper look on 21st century student career outlooks on life.  My 15 year old son Jacob has been actively involved in a year long study of careers at his Houston High High.  This past month he had an opportunity to participate in a job shadow opportunity of his choice, and to experience first hand a career interest or skill set he would like to further pursue or investigate.  Now to understand this background history of where I am going with this blog post- is I need to introduce you to our youngest son first.  I call him "my unique" son- unique meaning how Jacob verbally expresses himself to share his knowledge with others, has a unique sense of humor and how he does not want to conform, follow or fit in with the "in crowd."  He wants to make his own individual claim in life, think for himself and learn from others and at time lead others, make sound decisions based on his past and present critical observational experiences that others have not thought of or have experienced-  and just be different. Being different at times can lead others viewpoints or perceptions of an individual as being a nonconformist- OMG he is totally like his Mom- that is Me. 

Jacob is our world traveler.  Since he has been 5 years old he has traveled to many countries with his family, traveled with the People to People Student Ambassador program to the United Kingdom at the age of 12 and traveled through 7 countries immersing himself in the culture and traditions of each country.  (Jake is pictured on the right in the picture). In his life time already he views many obstacles as opportunities with a different lens, and finds solutions to difficult situations I would never think of through his unique linguistic responses.  So when he asked his father and myself if he could job shadow a glass maker/blower for his 9th grade job shadow day we first thought (with our thinking voices) how could this job shadow turn into an actual career path.  We discarded those thoughts immediately and thought if this is his interest at this time- then lets let him pursue it because it will ultimately impact his life in a positive way. 

So by now you can imagine- Jake's favorite TV channels are the Discovery and History channels.  He has viewed glass making/blowing through these educational programs to spark his interest. Jake is also a normal typical 15 year old where girls are on his radar screen, his loves his rock music and is an avid percussionist, and loves to play those Play Station video games with his friends while chatting online with other gamers around the world.  Yep- he is still a kid at heart, but a true entrepreneur and a very intellectual young man.

As a team and with Jake's career teacher we guided Jacob's search in the tri-state area for a glass blower and found Chad in Sparta, WI about 40 miles from our hometown.  We came across the Southern Fried Glass business through our local TV station's blog on WKBT,
which they aired a video segment just 6 weeks earlier- what luck! Here is the video below.

Jacob had the opportunity to experience first hand a 2 hour glass making session at Chad's Sparta, WI art studio.  Jake was in awe..... he very much is a visual and auditory learner.  He was totally engrossed in the learning experience, but for most of the time he quietly and actively observed the glass making techniques of the instructor and students around him.  Please note on the way home during the car ride he talked non-stop.  The excitement he shared through his words was enlightening to us as parents to see how excited he was to learn a new skill and art technique.  Here is an Animoto video clip of Jake's experience.

Because of this positive and educational learning experience that we as a family have now been exposed to as well, Jacob has opened our eyes and has taught us as parents the appreciation of the art and skill of the original craftsman and trade-smith.  Doesn't it make you wonder how creativity and innovation of the arts and technical skills aid in our childrens' life long experiences to choose unique and futuristic career paths that they are truly interested in and passionate about, instead of following and settling for the standard realm and expectations of job that does not make us truly happy in life.  These are exactly the kind of positive exposures to real-world experiences that our children need to be immersed in to understand the life long career opportunities that can possibly await for them.

By Jacob's request, we now have Jake signed up for some summer classes in the art of glass blowing.  Some parents spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on competitive sporting activities and other events for their children, but are chosen and driven by their parents expectations, we on the other hand are letting Jake pursue his interest in the art of glass blowing without the constant pressure of a parent pressured success and failure rate.  The effort, innovation and creativity that Jake puts into and gets out of his classwork with glass making will ultimately be his success and means of accomplishments of his own "unique" and final product to contribute back to his self-worth and well being as productive 21st century global learner.  The art and history of the craftsmen and trade-smiths will not be forgotten in our or our son's lifetime, and the work ethic and attention to detail that compliments this type of future career path will flow over into many more opportunities that await for our son to pursue.

Please inspire and support your son or daughter's appreciation and career paths of the arts today!

Naomi Harm

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