As I read the newspapers today, I chanced upon an article that featured a research project from the University of Kent. The research project was to see if there were any changes in the dreams of young people now, compared to 1978 when the research first started. Just like before, school-leavers were asked to write an essay about how they would imagine their lives in the future as if looking back at them, and to describe what had happened in between.

As the results came back, the researchers found that the most significant change was the increasing ambition of girls. In 1978, not one of the 52 girls considered higher education. Most of them wrote that they would take whatever job that was presented to them, as jobs were seen as scarce.

After more than 30 years, almost 4 out of 10 girls wrote that completing university is one of their goals in life. A quarter of the students wrote that they aspire to work in a professional job, with a high percentage of boys also writing that they want to live a pop-culture dream of being a professional sportsman or celebrity pop star.

Earlier today as we were chatting over lunch, we talked about how a person’s family name might have developed from the family’s trade or profession (e.g.Carpenter, Taylor, Smith, Chapman etc.) and how people were expected to take over the family’s business. Most people then were also farmers; who woke early, worked the whole day and slept when the sun set. (No electric bulbs to cause them to stay awake!) So they didn’t really have a choice, the energy, or time to do something else. In fact, only those who were from the top echelons of society had a say to what jobs they wanted.

Looking back, I’m really glad that I’ve had the freedom to choose the courses that I took in school, and the jobs that I want, based on my Interests and aspirations. How about you?


PS: I really have no clue what trade my first ancestor (family name = Yellow) did, besides being a descendant of the Yellow Emperor and harnessing river floods… 😀