So, you think you’re smarter than an 8th grader
Fifteen years ago I was invited to be a presenter at Niguel Hills Middle School’s 8th grade “Career Day”. My oldest child was in Kindergarten (he is now a sophomore in college) and my youngest child had not yet been born. My only knowledge about 8th graders was what I remembered from my youth. And from what I remembered there were a lot of subtleties that most grownups, no matter how hard they tried, would never be able to comprehend. Being a father of two (soon to be three) I was pretty sure I had a handle on what to expect from kids. After all there couldn’t really be that much difference between a kindergartener and an 8th grader – right? I showed up in the morning to present; prepared with some note cards about what it is like to be a dentist, what education is required and how fulfilling it is to be a healthcare provider. Before I even entered Mrs. Peterson’s classroom, they could smell me coming. They sensed my weakness and wasted no time in deconstructing my trite answers with their sophisticated wit to which they all laughed uproariously. I had never before been so humiliated (well maybe once or twice when I was in 8th grade). I vowed never to be in this position again. Either I would no longer be a presenter or I would learn a lot more about 8th graders. I chose the later and I have now celebrated my 15th consecutive year being a presenter.
This past Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at my youngest son’s 8th grade “Career Day”. I came prepared with an elaborate audiovisual presentation (thank goodness for PowerPoint), visual props (text books and a skull – no not a real one, just a replica) and candy (lots of candy). The PowerPoint has done away with my useless note cards and allows me to display pictures with sound that 8th graders find infinitely more interesting. The props, well they really just give me some credibility – after all, a professional is only as good as his props. And the candy, yes that’s right, I said candy. The candy is not just a way to drum up new business. No the candy is the smartest tool for the job of getting an 8th grader’s attention. An 8th grader will do just about anything (including ask intelligent questions) for a Milky Way, a Snickers or an Abazaba. More importantly, it temporarily made them act like the well-behaved young men and women they will come to be.
Pictures from Career Day at Niguel Hills Middle School:
Here are some of the highlights of “Career Day”…
How many years of school does it take to become a dentist?
To become a general dentist one needs a Bachelor’s degree (usually 4 years in a science major) and then 4 years of dental school to earn a Doctorate of Dental Surgery (my bachelor’s degree is in Psychobiology from UCLA and my DDS degree is from UCLA School of Dentistry).
What is your favorite thing about being a dentist?
Besides being my own boss, I love interacting with my patients on a personal level, getting to know them and helping them improve their health and appearance.
When did you decide to become a dentist?
I decided that I wanted to become a dentist in my senior year of high school. Prior to that, I had thought of being a physicist. My love for physics was surpassed by my love for people.
What procedure in dentistry gives you the most satisfaction?
I do enjoy every aspect of dentistry whether doing a root canal, a cleaning, an implant or a crown but, my favorite would be cosmetics. There is just something extremely rewarding when I change someone’s appearance and they tell me how they used to be embarrassed whenever they smiled and how much more confidence they have with their new smile. Click here to see before and after photos