“Dude! He can fly – that is awesome!”
“He is all-powerful, that would be the best!”
“If I were him I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, that would be the best life.”
“Well, he lives in a pineapple under the sea. That seems cool.”
Across the board, when my 120 freshman were asked to write about a fictional character that they would want to be, they picked characters who could fly, had total control and/or complete freedom. I had not heard of all the characters, but I was certainly clear on the pattern of preference.
That says a lot about the life of a fourteen year old I imagine. And then of course there is the potential that living in a pineapple under the sea has to offer. Oh, and flame throwing was highly regarded as well.
Some of the other responses included wanting to be able to save people or do things that would engender respect and admiration – rarely articulated as fame – almost exclusively a clear desire to demonstrate goodness and worthiness.
They wrote, with widely variable skill, about these characters and how they would embody the elements of each one that they believed were most interesting, beneficial… empowering. It made me think back to being a freshman: PHS, fall of 1984. I had such big ideas about what high school would be like (thank you very much John Hughes) and to some degree PHS delivered, but really, not so much. What were my issues when I was a freshman? Did I want to fly? Rule the world? Maybe just rule my world? Be loved, revered, adored? Likely. (How is that different from now, you say? Ha.) I think that given the choice I would have chosen to be invisible rather than avionic, though that could simply be rooted in my nosey (or deviant?) tendencies. I am sure that I wanted for more control than I was able to muster, but I laugh out loud when I try to remember what it was I so much wanted to control. What was it? Freedom I am sure rated fairly high for me as well, but again, looking back on it, my youth seems pretty free. I have no idea if that is the power of a selective memory or some sort of viral nostalgia. Does what Freshmen want change? I wonder…
Flight. Control. Freedom. And maybe a little flame throwing, or morphability.
Looks like it’s been pretty consistent down the line.