Why do we remember?


We seldom give memory a second thought until we find ourselves at a loss for a word or struggling to put a name to a face. We travel to a location we haven’t visited in years and we find our way around as though we’d never left. A familiar scent or aroma reminds us of people and places and times.

It’s one of our most powerful survival tools—if we use it. It lets us compare what is with what used to be. A wet spot on a ceiling where there wasn’t one before usually means that some shingles are missing or that the entire roof has to be replaced. Green, pink or amber fluid under the car? If you own one, you know what that means.

Left to our own devices, most of us would rather live in a steady-state world. Work 5 days for The Man during the week; head up to the cottage or the slopes on the weekend. But we’re not being left to our own devices. And it’s not as though we’re not aware of what’s going on. How can we not be? It’s in all the papers, on the Internet, in magazines, on TV, and streamed live to our iPads and iPhones. Outsourcing, outplacement, offshoring, downsizing, reorganizing, asset sales, shareholder revolts, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, budget cuts, management shake-ups, plant closures, reduced hiring, unpaid internships, fixed term contracts with no benefits. And we’re not done yet.

As working adults we can be as selective about what we choose to monitor, compare and contrast as we wish, and even then we have to tread carefully. But, to quote Richard Florida in the Toronto Star:  “We are in the midst of the greatest, most thorough economic transformation in all of history.”

Where our children are concerned, we’ve reached the limits of what we can choose to ignore. Ten years ago you could ask what they wanted to be when they grew up and they’d tell you. Now what they’re saying is, “I want to be employed.”

PDD believes in telling it like it is and how it’s likely to be. We believe in educating our children so that they can think critically about what they’re experiencing, without blinders on. We believe in showing them and their parents how to identify what work Canada needs done now and will need done by the time they graduate from university, community college or trade school. Especially work in fields that didn’t exist when we were in our late teens.

On-ramp1

The driver in the vehicle shown here is on a one-way on-ramp. It’s a metaphor for how the class that will be graduating 4 years from now is growing, developing and gaining its own momentum. The expressway is a metaphor for where the world is going. They’ll have to pick their spot in the traffic at the bottom of the ramp and accelerate to match its speed as they merge and integrate with it.

It’s critical that we help them meet the world halfway. Expectations about what kinds of work will be available in the short- and intermediate term have to change. We should give our memories of our earlier years their due. But we have to recognize that those days are gone and that the next several graduating classes are going to have to come to terms with the world as it is now—their world. Their careers have to start somewhere. It isn’t hyperbole to say that theirs may well be the generation that turns this mess around. Other than during times of war, it’s hard to remember the last time entire generations were at risk.

In an earlier post, I wrote about how certain people believe that everything that matters in the world should come with a barcode and a price tag; everything else should be offshored and outsourced. For the moment, those people call the shots, but they’re going to be replaced, hopefully by younger people who see and value the world differently.

PDD is committed to helping parents and their soon-to-be university, community college and trade school graduates make that change happen. Sooner rather than later.

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