“When I grow up I want to be…” Ah. Eight words that echo through the generations of children that have come before my son. Eight words that signify the unbridled optimism of having an age still in single digits, words that swell with the limitless possibilities that are spread before your feet when your main mode of transport is still a scooter.
“… a scientist.” This was my son’s first declaration of a future career. I enquired as to what type of scientist he might like to be and was treated to a long, detailed and almost impenetrable explanation of an under-sea system that, if I understood it correctly, would control the tides across the Earth. So, a megalomaniac scientist, then. But a noble thought it was, even though I wasn’t actually sure he was not just regurgitating a recent plot line from Scooby Doo.
But hang on, I suddenly thought, perhaps that is exactly the right thing to be doing. Perhaps taking professional development advice from television characters is absolutely the best careers advice a six year old can be given and will give kids a much more realistic picture of what to expect in the world of work…
Inspector Gadget. As accurate a depiction of success in the corporate world as there can be. The boss, badly dressed, bumbles around spouting half-baked theories, making ridiculous decisions based on some poorly-placed intuition and generally f@*king everything up, whilst a younger, much more intelligent girl runs around, figures everything out and makes Inspector G look far better than his limited talents should allow.
Scooby Doo. A microcosm of any office environment, including a simmering ‘will they / won’t they, or have they already’ frisson between Fred and Daphne, plus the archetypal nerd with glasses whose fierce intellect is totally overshadowed by a gargantuan roll-neck jumper and a couple of slackers who will go to any lengths not to actually do any work.
Eight words that signify the unbridled optimism of having an age still in single digits, words that swell with the limitless possibilities that are spread before your feet when your main mode of transport is still a scooter.
Shaun the Sheep. The man in charge can barely, literally or metaphorically, see what is happening right in front of his face and has therefore delegated total responsibility to middle management. Middle management has a clipboard rather than any level of competency, and spends his time trying to corral the masses in a highly passive aggressive manner. The masses, however, could not give a flying monkey about middle management and spent most of their time arsing around.
But there is one programme kids should never watch if they want to understand about the world of work: Postman Pat. Here is a man with no commercial objectives thrust upon him by his line manager, a man so wilfully idiotic that he thinks a Key Performance Indicator is something he switches on in his van when he wants to turn left. He tootles around Greendale, stopping to chat to customers, rescuing the odd cat from a tree, breaking the contents of the odd fragile parcel and not caring a jot when he might get round to actually delivering the post, and yet happy to deploy several forms of transport and waste several hours just to ensure that Ted gets that not-so-urgent can of oil for his lawnmower before lunchtime. Such flagrant misuse of company resources and lack of acceptable performance levels means that in the real world, Pat would have been fired on the spot years ago. They would have sent him a written warning, but they couldn’t be sure if would actually be bloody delivered.
So, there you have it. More evidence, if you need it, that television is of huge benefit to young children. My son has already changed his mind about his career of choice, no doubt based upon another programme he watched on CBBC.
“When I grow up, I want to be a hip-hop street dancer,” he announces.
Hmm. It may be exciting as careers go, but I hear the pension arrangements are dismal.