A lesson plan based on “Choosing my own path” from the November-December 2010 issue of L.A. Youth, in which Bon Jin Koo writes about pursuing his love of writing despite his parents’ hopes that he focus on a career in business or science.

By Laura Lee, Editor
Grades: 6-12
Subjects: Language arts, life skills
Suggested time allowance: 45 minutes-1 hour

pens, paper
copies of L.A. Youth article “Choosing my own path” (one per student)
white board or chalkboard

Students will explore ways to connect their own interests to a possible future career.

Warm-up activity:
Write the word “careers” on the board. Ask your students to name different careers they’ve considered and write their answers on the board. After making the list, ask your students discussion questions. What do they know about the job? Why does it sound interesting to them? What would their parents think if they pursued that field? What subjects should they study to prepare for it? Does it matter if they make a lot of money?

Ask your students to read Bon Jin’s story, “Choosing my own path,” on page 6 of the November-December issue of L.A. Youth. After reading the article, ask your students the following discussion questions to measure their reading comprehension:

What kind of jobs did Bon Jin’s parents want him to have?
• Doctor
• Lawyer
• Businessman
• One that made a lot of money

Why did Bon Jin change his mind about studying zoology?
• He started to get bored in science class at school.
• He didn’t want to take science classes like chemistry and physics in college.

What factors convinced Bon Jin that pursuing writing was a good idea?
• He liked writing for fun outside of school.
• He loved discussing books in English class.
It felt good to hear from others who read his short stories and told him that he was a good writer.
His mother called him “a magician with words.”
Even after talking to his English teacher, who told him how much he’d have to write in college, he was still interested in study it.
He enjoys writing for his school’s newspaper to get more experience writing.

How are Bon Jin’s expectations different from his parents’?
He doesn’t think making a lot money is everything.
He wants to enjoy going to work every day.
He thinks that no matter what he does, if he works hard he can be successful.

After reading the story, ask your students what they thought of Bon Jin’s decision to pursue writing. Do they agree with his reasons for wanting to be a writer? Is it OK for him to disagree with his parents’ wishes? Do they agree with him that money isn’t the only factor when considering a career?

Ask students to write about a career they’re interested in pursuing. They should share their reasons for wanting to go into that field. They should also research it to find out what steps they would need to get that kind of job. What kind of education would they need—a college degree or technical school? What kinds of classes would they need to take? What type of subjects should they study now? How much money would that job make? After doing their research, do they still want to pursue that field? Why or why not?

Extension activity:
Have your students interview or shadow an adult who is working in the field that they’re interested in to learn what it would be like to have that job.