Children can only aspire for what they know exists

KAPAMILYA DAY - Kane Errol Choa - The Philippine Star
Children can only aspire for what they know exists
Edukasyon.ph’s Henry Motte-Muñoz, KidZania Manila governor Cookie Bartolome, DLS-CSB’s Rex Lor, KidZania global director of education Dr. Ger Graus, ANC’s Cathy Yang, Gawad Kalinga’s Luis Oquiñena and KidZania Manila’s Cecille Mariño.

Enabling children to experience, more than just simply teaching them, is the key to filling in the learning gap, according to KidZania’s global director of education Dr. Ger Graus OBE.

Graus emphasized that it is everyone’s job to lead children to opportunities for exploration and curiosity to raise awareness of possible career paths.

“Children can only aspire for what they know exists. They tend to choose to do something that they are already familiar with,” said Graus at the Raising the Next Generation: The Role We Play forum held recently at KidZania Manila.

In a study KidZania conducted to find out the preferred activities of children from various countries and backgrounds, findings showed that stereotypes, particularly gender-related, were already apparent even at the age of four and these impact career aspirations.

He also said that girls evidently choose activities below their age range while boys choose the ones above their age range. Meanwhile, those girls who come from modest communities mostly choose working at the salon or supermarket, while boys choose doing the courier service.

Dr. Ger also shared another surprising discovery — the choices made of 14-years-old, regardless of gender, were strikingly similar to those made by four-year-olds.

“If all the patterns are set by the age of four, why do we wait for another 10 years before we start conversation with those children about careers education?” probed the UK-based speaker.

“Our job is not to teach. Our job is to enable children to experience and find out what’s out there in the first place,” he said.

Teacher Sab with her students.

The forum was an initiative of KidZania Manila, aimed to inspire parents, educators and industry partners to utilize their roles in making children 21st century-ready.

“We play an important role in shaping the minds of this new generation,” said Cookie Bartolome, governor and CEO of KidZania Manila — a play city built to scale for kids four to 17 years old where they can explore various interests and learn life skills designed to inspire and empower them.

“Through role-play activities designed by educators and child development specialists, we hope to provide children with opportunities that discover and nurture their unique interests to learn about the value of hard work and the possibilities of the future beyond the classroom,” she said.

A recent visitor who saw these possibilities is 11-year-old Yuan Baltazar, who had refused to entertain any suggestion to be a doctor in the past. When he tried the “surgeon” role in the play city’s operating room, the experience led him from a world he previously thought was terrifying to a career, he said, he may now consider in the future.

With the goal to make tomorrow a little better than today for the next generation, Dr. Ger encouraged educators and industry partners to work together.

“We want to try and be part of change. There will be not a single KidZania in the world where there is an activity that will not get inputs from schools. We need the people who know the children to help us make it better.”

Aside from Dr. Ger, the KidZania Manila summit featured Edukasyon.ph’s CEO and founder Henry Motte-Muñoz, Gawad Kalinga’s executive director Jose Luis Oquiñena, Culiat Elementary School faculty member and 2016 Ten Outstanding Women of the Nation awardee Sabrina “Teacher Sab” Ongkiko and De La Salle – College of St. Benilde’s Rex Lor.

ANC anchor/managing editor and The Boss host Cathy Yang facilitated the panel discussion among the guest speakers.

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