by Michael Boyink / News Editor / [email protected]
Five and a half years old.
What were you doing at when you were five and a half years old?
If you can’t remember either, WebMD.com lists some developmental milestones for five-six year olds:
Speak in simple but complete sentences
Begin to read
Understand the concept of numbers
Know day from night
Know left from right
Be able to tell time
Sounds about right.
But, according to parents surveyed recently by the Toy Association, there’s another thing a five year old should be thinking about.
The study, entitled STEM/STEAM Formula for Success, surveyed 2000 parents and asked what they thought was the ideal age for kids to get started on their future career path.
Five and a half years old was their answer.
And, of course, most of the parents wanted their kids in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related career. More than half of them, in fact, had already picked out a specific career for their child.
Setting aside helicopter parenting.
Setting aside just letting kids be kids.
Setting aside the utter ridiculousness of tasking a five year old with worrying about her career.
A couple of thoughts come to mind.
The first is that STEM careers are a moving target. Assuming our five year old finishes his K-12 education then completes a four-year college degree, he won’t enter the job market for another 17 years.
That’s an eternity in the technology world. iPhones didn’t exist 17 years ago. Kindles didn’t exist 17 years ago. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Instagram. Or LinkedIn. Or Skype.
Behind those and other recent technologies are the new careers they’ve spawned. Scrum Masters. Blockchain Engineers. Big Data Scientists. Virtual Reality Engineers. Internet of Things Architects.
In with the new means out with the old. What STEM jobs of today will be relegated to the trash heap in 17 years?
Here’s the other thing.
Those five year olds?
They grow up.
And develop minds of their own.
Send them off to school for a STEM degree, and on average, 35% of them will switch majors. Math majors are the most mercurial – 52% of them later switch.
And who knows?
Even with a liberal arts degree, they may still end up back in a STEM career.
It happened to me. I initially went to college for electronics engineering. I didn’t last, and later went back for a film degree. Then spent over 20 years developing software and websites.
But at five years old?
I just wanted to ride my bike without training wheels.
Sources: toyassociation.org, webmd.com, nces.ed.gov