Up until the day I actually spoke, I only had the vaguest of ideas about what I was going to say. I'd been given some really good advice about what to do from a teacher friend, and I'd searched the internet for a way to talk to kids about graphic design, but it wasn't until a couple of hours before I actually did it that I got sort of an outline of what I was going to do. I'd be a terrible teacher. Well, I might be a good teacher, but I'd be a very under prepared one!
There were a lot of little kids down in the basement that night. Like, a LOT. So many, in fact, that I got a little panicky thinking of how they could probably keep me hostage in some way if they chose to do so. The children's group leaders feed the kids dinner every Wednesday night during the summer, so they were all scattered among different tables when I started my talk, but the minute I brought out my first visual aid, they all rushed forward with chairs and surrounded me so they could see. You'll be very proud to know that I didn't run screaming!
A world without graphic artists would make cereal boxes very dull.
I won't give you a verbatim account about what I told them, but basically I told them that graphic designers make everything look awesome. We do, by the way. The kids actually seemed very interested (although a couple of them talked through the whole thing, but at least they were talking about what I was talking about) and they reacted well to the stuff I talked about. I told them about understanding colors (knowing which colors go where and why) I told them about fonts (appropriate fonts for certain kinds of things) and context of images (which I realize is very subjective, even as I was telling them it wasn't!) They were very impressed when I told them that I'd worked for the SpRocket (ptooey) but I left out the soul sucking, vindictive, hose-beast of a boss that fired me. Let the children learn those lessons on their own! :)
I only had two moments where I went a little off the rails. First, there is one little girl in that group who is apparently super-smart and a grade above her age level. She understood more about color theory than the other kids, and one of her questions prompted me to say something along the lines of "using colors as psychological manipulation in certain kinds of marketing." I got a lot of blank stares with that one. Second, when one of the kids asked me how old you had to be to do the job, I told them how old I had been when I graduated college, which I realize is much older than most people are when they graduate with a BA. I explained that I'd gotten married and had to work while going to school, which made everything take a lot longer and somehow that got tangled up with whether or not you should get married before or after going to college. (After. Always after. Except for graduate degrees. You can get married before you do that.)
At any rate, they all seemed to enjoy my talk, and one kid (the one that had talked through the whole thing and the one I was sure hadn't heard a word I said) came up to me afterward and thanked me for coming in to talk, because he wanted to design video games one day and he said I'd helped him understand a lot of things he'd need to know to do that. I waited until he was gone to melt in a puddle of warm goo from that.