Written By: Gopakumar P – Programme Manager, Govt Model HSS CU Campus, Thenhipalam, Malappuram District, ASAP Kerala
Once a young boy got admission for higher studies in the USA. Before travelling to the USA, he decided to have the blessings of his grandfather whom he considered as his mentor throughout his life. Seeing his grandson, the grandfather asked him: Dear grandson, why are you going to the USA? The young boy replied, “Grandpa, I am going to the USA to pursue my higher education. The grandpa asked, “Oh ok. So after that what’s your next plan?” He replied, “Obviously, I will go for a high paying job. Grandfather asked him, “Okay. So what’s your next plan?” The Boy instantly replied, “I want to enjoy maximum luxuries, I want to enjoy my bachelor life, I want to roam around the world”. Hearing the answer, grandfather curiously asked, “Beta, so what’s your next plan”. The boy said, “when I have enjoyed my bachelor life, I will find a suitable girl of my choice and marry her.” Again the same question came from grandfather. “what’s your next plan”. The boy became a little irritated but he answered, “after that, we will have children and will lead a family life.” The grandfather didn’t stop and again went on asking the same question. The boy who had answers for all the previous questions was now confused and irritated. Thinking for a while, he finally angrily said, “Finally all of us will die”. He thought at least now grandfather will not ask any further questions. But the grandfather asked him, “Beta, so you are now saying that you are going to the USA to die. You said you will study, enjoy a bachelor life, get married, etc and finally, you will die. Let me ask you a question. Is there any rule that all these should be done before death? Even all other living beings around us are doing the same things before they leave this world, perhaps in a different way. Beta, the purpose of life, is a life of purpose.”
The Boy was curious to know what his grandfather is telling. “Grandpa, so are you telling me that I shouldn’t do all these things?” Grandfather replied, “ No dear, There is nothing wrong with your plan. But most often we forget to repay our society. Our Life can be made meaningful only if we can do something for society. Find out who you are and be that person. Concentrate on your natural skills. That’s what your soul was put on this earth to be. Find that truth. Live that truth. Everything else will come. You will win” The boy broke into tears, hugged and took blessings from his grandfather.
This story leaves behind a big question. Perhaps, a million-dollar question that yet remains unanswered. What should I do in my life and once you have clarity on the above question, then it’s time to answer the second one, “Why should I do this job?”
should be working for some MNCs abroad. What should matter only is whatever job you chose, can you enjoy and do it for the rest of your life and can you contribute something to society. Unfortunately, an India today survey reports that around 93% of students in the age group 14-21 are aware of only 7 career options. All these points out the importance of implementing two crucial concepts in the education system viz. Career Mentoring and Skill development. Both of these are part and parcel of education in most developed countries. But we still haven’t achieved that intensity.
In the early 1900s, the United States began its initiatives in the field of career choice development, the innovative concept of the ‘right person for the right job’. This slogan was well received by the American community and became a unique centre of the Euro-American education system. Following this, aptitude (innate talent) and interest were given high priority in higher education and young people chose their careers accordingly. In India, the idea was practised for centuries in the traditional gurukula or ancient times, however, it seems forgotten over time and neglected. Countries that have adopted this model stand out globally, while countries that have adopted the traditional naive idea are fighting to achieve the goal of ‘anyone can do any job’.
Recently a lot of positive changes have happened in our education sector bringing a radical shift in the way of thinking. But whatever policy changes have happened, it has to be supported by creating the right mindset among our students and parents. I believe the traditional Asian culture values stability over risk. We can’t blame the parents alone for this tendency because they too are made to think like this after coming through an education system which only focussed on getting marks.
A Note to the Parents
It is indeed very true that only a few students take up a career based on their interest. A lot choose their career because of parental pressure, peer pressure, media hype, societal recognition of a certain set of jobs, family expectations. The process of deciding a career path must be started early in life, preferably in high school classes, after identifying and understanding the strengths of the child viz. the personality factors, abilities and interests. In the process of identifying passions, one should handhold the child, be supportive, be patient and behave like a close friend/mentor, giving necessary advice without any bias. A tension-free atmosphere needs to be created in each home where each student develops the courage to explore his natural talents.
A Note to the Policymakers
Every child is unique and gifted with unlimited potential! Aligning the natural strengths of a child to exciting opportunities in the future should be the motto of the whole education system. Career mentoring should be made an integral part of education right from the upper primary classes which should be followed by skill development programmes. In the initial phase, each student should go through scientifically designed psychometric tests and personality development tests to have a basic knowledge of his personality and related traits. This will help the students to narrow down his/her possible career options. Then the student should be guided by well-trained career mentors/coaches to identify his natural talents, providing the necessary skill development and confidence. For this, a Career Lab facility can be started in all the schools. The admission to all the professional courses should be done strictly based on aptitude tests and multiple screening procedures to test the actual interest of the student. The passions of our students should not be contaminated by unnecessary comparisons. Schools should not be places promoting comparison, competition and confusion. Instead, the entire school atmosphere should foster an environment to enhance Creativity, Character and Confidence. Before completing the 10th std, each student should have enough knowledge about his/her strengths, opportunities awaiting them in the future and the skills required. Although the likes/dislikes/priorities etc of a student can vary as they age, the basic area where their passion lies will remain the same. Another aspect is the exams. The concept of closed-book exams needs to be replaced gradually with open book exams. Open book examinations promote the right mental set in both learning and teaching. The students will stop mugging to reproduce it in tests. It does not mean that students do not need to study for exams. It implies that they should understand concepts, and use them to solve problems. Thus education becomes a pleasurable activity, not a painful drudgery. And what is learned with pleasure is assimilated more efficiently, and retained better.
A Note to all the students
You should understand that careers are never made in a day and it calls for a process that ignites you to aspire and achieve excellence in life. Your ambitions should be supported by a vision. So first fix the vision and goal, then decide the mission to achieve it. India is a developing country. That means so much is still undone. The world will put obstacles in front of you. You can view it as an obstacle or possibility. Where there is a problem, there is a possibility to find solutions for that problem. If you have a working brain and a seeing eye, when you look around there are a thousand things to be done right around you. Do not adopt a herd mentality. Don’t make your career choices simply based on the subjects you choose in your 11th and 12th grade or the marks you got in SSLC. Instead of simply thinking about what should I become in life, set your thoughts in such a way that in what way I can add value to society. This will help you in identifying your passion. You must not be driven by your frustrations, anxieties, concerns or biases.
After years of consistent efforts, Once you’ve found your passion, now you start facing the realities. That’s the time you get to decide. Are you willing to make sacrifices for it? Are you willing to stay patient? Are you willing to fight for? If the answer is yes, congratulations. Your life will become a masterpiece. Remember, Education is not just about learning. All these learning businesses will become obsolete in the next 5 or 10 years. Like Albert Einstein said, “If you want to lead a happy and meaningful life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects”.
If someone asks us to measure somebody’s physical traits, we can easily measure their height, weight and other attributes but is it possible to measure psychological traits such as a persons nature, aptitude, inherent talents as well? It is in such a situation a well designed scientific psychometric test will be of immense use. Even though no test can assess fully one’s personality as it is very complex, a well researched psychometric test can be a good starting guide for a student in his journey of knowing his personality. If done correctly, psychometric tests can reveal the suitability of the student to a particular field of study. At present, there is no compulsion that school students need to undergo psychometric tests at any time during their studies. However, psychometric tests for students are recommended so that the students can understand themselves and their capabilities better. The advantages are not only limited to a student finding their right career pathway but that they get to know their abilities and interests better which help them further in their life & career trajectory.
The ASAP Mark
ASAP Kerala is associating with the Department of Psychology, Govt. College for Women, Trivandrum for developing an Aptitude Test for High School students to measure their aptitude, interest, and personality. The output will be a report that can guide the student reasonably toward a choice of Higher studies and eventually towards a suitable career.