When I Grow Up

15 February 2010

A study about childhood aspirations and reality that has been ongoing for 50 years will feature in a new BBC Radio 4 series.

In 1969 when they were 11 years old, 14,000 British children were asked to write 30-minute essays predicting what they might become in the future.

As well as evidence of individual ambition, the essays offered snapshots of how the children imagined life would be when they reached 25. Many mentioned future holidays on the Moon - not surprising, as the essays were written in the same month as the first lunar landing in July 1969.

“My husband would have just won £200 so we decided to go to the Moon for our holiday while we had not got any children”.

The Nuffield Foundation funded Professor Jane Elliott of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies to re-visit the essays and undertake analysis that will allow examination of how aspirations are constrained by social class, and how this is mediated by gender and ability.

A new series on BBC Radio 4 features several of the participants, now in their early 50s, who were happy to talk openly about how their lives had turned out in relation to the essays they wrote as children.

The five 15 minute episodes will be broadcast on Tuesday mornings at 9.30am and will also be available via the BBC iPlayer.

See the full story on the BBC website.

Find out more about the essays on the Centre for Longitudinal Studies website.