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What Can Children Offer the World?

Updated on February 5, 2016

The worldviews of adults and children are very different. On one hand, children are not as wise, knowledgeable, or worldly as adults because of their lack of experience. On the other hand, children are more optimistic than adults, and they can overlook certain obstacles in order to get their ideas flowing. This doesn’t mean that all power should be handed over to children in households, companies, and governments. It does, however, mean that adults should recognize the things that they can learn from children and strive to attain those same attributes. Children should be given opportunities, not based on their age, but based on their skill, creativity, and open-mindedness. Finally, adults shouldn’t be embarrassed to learn something from someone younger than them, but proud of the child for knowing and willing to use the information when it is needed in the future.

When people are young, they set high expectations for their futures. They may not think about how much something would cost or the amount of work it will require – they only know what would make them happy and successful due to their ability to overlook obstacles. Kids are frequently asked what they want to be when they grow up while adults are asked, “What do you do?” This question is asked to ascertain the adult’s place in society. If one is truly interested in another’s importance in the world, she should ask “Did you become what you wanted to be when you grew up?” Sadly, only 6% of today’s adults would be able to truthfully say yes (Flatiwanger). What one has been loving and practicing through her whole childhood often dissipates when it comes time to go to college, declare a major, and get a degree. Thirty-four percent of the population will decide not to go to college at this point (Norris). The other 66% will go to college and many of those people will choose a business major (US Department of Education), instead of what they were originally interested in as a child, because it is much less expensive than other majors like art, law, photography, architecture, and engineering (Murphy). This is because a business major typically does not require as many costly materials as other majors. As Marc Anthony said, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Many adults might consider this a fantasy, but it really could become true. There is a slim chance that you could go your entire working life without complaining about your job. However, if you have stuck with what you wanted to be when you grew up, there is a better chance of you being happy to walk out the door to go to work – at least most of the time.

Children’s ideas are not halted by concerns about money or possibility, allowing a stream of ideas to flow. These ideas are often just for play or fun, but if a child is given a prompt to think about a way to solve an issue in the world, it is possible that their solutions could be the most simple, yet best, possible solutions. Occasionally, adults tend to overthink issues that seem complicated because of their consequences. Children have the ability to overlook obstacles, simply because they are not fully aware of them. Now, while this is a drawback that could prevent a child from solving an issue by herself, it could be used to mutual advantage. Adults and children could mutually bounce ideas off of each other, because when given a problem, children can be extremely innovative. For example, Louis Braille invented braille when he was fifteen because he was blind in one eye. Chester Greenwood invented earmuffs when he was also fifteen. (NBC Universal) Recently, an eighteen-year-old named Eesha Khare may have invented a device that can charge your cellphone in less than thirty seconds. (Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.)

Unlike some adults, most children tend to be open to learning from others, probably because they are used to it. Children learn from adults at school 180 days of the year (US Department of Education), not counting their home education where they learn through their parents and experiences. They are constantly adding to their encyclopedia of knowledge, even if they don’t know it. Many adults often tune out opportunities to learn because they think they already know the information, are too good to learn from a younger individual, or they think the material is not important. For example, my father was invited to speak at an educational seminar about retirement. 5000 people were invited to the seminar, but only five attended. A mere 0.1% of the people invited were willing to invest their time into learning about their future, making them better prepared for retirement. Even though it is more likely that adults shut out opportunities to learn, it happens with kids as well. The reality is that no one is perfect, and all people, adults and children, should accept every opportunity to learn. The saying “You learn something every day if you pay attention,” by Ray LeBlond is often communicated from adult to child, but children could be repeating the words to adults as well, for children often pay more attention to different things in life than adults realize. When children are accused of “not paying attention,” it is most likely because they are paying attention to something else. When children argue with their parents, they are learning to defend what they believe in, which is a trait many adults lose track of. When children are told to color inside the lines, they are being taught to think inside the box.

Children are often underestimated by adults in many ways, but adults also underestimate themselves. This leads other adults to believe, in many occasions, that they are not capable or that something is impossible. If children received the same opportunities as adults, their optimistic natures would take them places adults never thought they could go. If adults adopted some of the attitudes children have, they might be more likely to have the careers they wanted. Some adults could gain more knowledge because they would learn new things every day, and adults and children could work together reciprocally.

Works Cited

Flatiwanger, John. "When I Grow Up...Why Only 6 Percent of Us Achieve Our Childhood Dreams." 19 November 2014. Article. 22 October 2015.

Murphy, Lauren. "Top 10 Most Expensive Majors." 23 April 2012. Article. 2 November 2015.

NBC Universal. "Inventions by Kids." 28 September 2011. Article. 21 October 2015.

Norris, Floyd. "Fewer US Graduates Opt for College after High School." 26 April 2014. Article. 22 October 2015.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. "Recharge your cellphone in 30 seconds." 20 May 2013. Article. 21 October 2015.

US Department of Education. "Enrollment Trends." n.d. Document. 21 October 2015.

—. "Most popular majors." n.d. Document. 21 October 2015.

A beautiful speech by Adora Svitak

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