Another form of parental prejudice is a father’s desire to have his son become a success in the vocation which he himself longed to enter, but could not. “My father is a successful business man,” said a young man to us not long ago. “When he was a young man he wanted to enter law school and practice law, but because of lack of funds and because he had to support his widowed mother’s family, he did not have the opportunity. All his life he has regretted that he was unable to realize his ambition. From my earliest years he has talked to me about becoming a great lawyer; he spent thousands of dollars in sending me through high school, college and law school; he has given me years of post-graduate work in law. I have now been trying to practice law for two years and have made a complete failure of it. Yet, so intense is his desire that I shall realize his ambition, that he is willing to finance me, in the hope that, eventually, I may be able to succeed in the practice of law. And yet I hate it. I hate it so that it seems to me I cannot drive myself ever to enter a law office for another day.”
When bad judgment and prejudice of parents do not interfere with a child’s development and his selection of a vocation, he is often turned into wrong channels by the bad judgment of his teacher or teachers. It is natural for many teachers to try to influence their favorite pupils to enter the teaching profession in the same special branch to which the teachers themselves are attached. We once knew a professor of Latin who was an enthusiast on the subject. As the result of his influence, many of his students became teachers of Latin. Teachers, like parents, also frequently fail to see the indications of aptitude where it is very great.
Like parents, teachers also are oftentimes ignorant of the requirements of work. They are frequently narrow in their training and experience, and therefore do not understand much about practical life, practical work, and practical requirements. Many teachers, even college professors, seem to be obsessed with the idea that a student who learns a subject easily will be successful in making a practical application of it. Not long ago a student in engineering in one of our most prominent universities came to us for consultation. He told us that his professors all agreed that he was well fitted to succeed as an engineer. He, however, had no liking for the profession and did not believe that he would either enjoy it or be successful in it. Our observations confirmed his opinions. It turned out that his instructors thought him qualified for engineering merely from the fact that he learned easily the theoretical principles underlying the practice.