An esteemed colleague, Dr Andrea Dennison, Educational Psychologist, often tells me, ‘You cannot hit a target without having one.’ So, I am musing today on targets, both national and personal – particularly now as students, who are at the point of selecting subject choices, are laying the foundation for their future options.
Targets require vision, strategy and implementation and we have never required vision more, as a nation and on an individual level. I am assured that under the guidance of our far-sighted and pragmatic Prime Minister, there are rivers of possibility currently being explored, so that our greatest resource – our people – will have opportunity, born in disruption, to become a relevant, flexible and significant workforce in the coming years.
The coaxing of a nation’s paradigm shift, that will enable us to survive and thrive in the next five, ten, 20 years and beyond, begins with vision. Beginning with WHAT IS and a target of WHAT MUST BE, takes time, resilience, perseverance and adaptability, and above all else, change makers that lead with authenticity. So, my uncertainty is not centred on what our ‘country can do for us’ but in ‘what we can do for our country’.
This brings me to my three greatest concerns. First, the question is no longer, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ It is, ‘What problem do you want to solve in this world?’
Secondly, our connected Millennials, who are unlike any generation before them, have the advantage of connection to vast information. Yet I have never seen a generation who connects less with the overabundance of information available. Setting the multitude of possible reasons aside, this is a problem we must rectify. When we expect 14-year-olds to choose subjects with no idea of a life target, they simply do not know where to begin.
Thirdly, there is far too little career counselling provided in our school system. We must recognise that students require immense assistance, considerable time to investigate and reflect on what their targets could be and guidance in the options which dictate direction.
Here’s some advice for parents: start with what subject your child ENJOYS–he or she may excel in it, or have a natural talent there. Perhaps the subject is their teacher’s passion or it may be integral to a hobby with which your child is transfixed. It does not matter if your teenager loves building things or is mesmerised by computer games or lives for spearfishing. No interest is too small to be discounted. Do not disregard indoor versus outdoor preferences.
Start with YouTube and Google. Have a look at the riveting and insightful videos of the theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku, whose job is to predict possible scenarios of the future. Watch Ted Talks; search for anything and everything that explores the changes that are coming and the future our children need to be involved in creating.
Have them Google their best or favourite subject, pastime or interests in future terms: “careers in (Design, Chemistry, Geography, Music) in 2050”, “new jobs that will exist in 2050”, “best jobs of the future, future careers in gaming”.
If your teenager is able to make strong connections – research the skills the future will require. The intuitive child will be able to link these to their underlying strengths – “future skills you’ll need in your career by 2030”.
Likewise, Googling: 10 challenges the world will face by 2050, is food for deep thought. The student who is questioning the purpose of choosing a subject, which may not be in an area of their strength or deepest interest, could very well discover that not all subjects are passion or competency driven; some are necessary to hit the target – a means to an end.
Have your child invest the time THEMSELVES investigating ideas, theories and options. This is THEIR JOURNEY, from their PERSPECTIVE, not yours.
If you can, watch or read along with them, but the parent’s view of the world is often coloured by what they believe is unlikely to happen. Leave your opinions aside, unless these are solicited. Be a FACILITATOR, not an advisor. Your children are MULTIPOTENTIALITES; do not be tempted to clip their wings. As the parable states, new wine requires new bottles.
We can be certain that the future is on its way to our island and to our children. It is our job to prepare for it with as much investigation as is needed to make informed choices. Inquiry often precedes vision, but vision provides the target which denotes the strategy. With all of these factors in place, comes implementation.
Our children are the most important part of our future and their choices of subjects, even at a young age, are of no small consequence. Start at the end and work backwards. Deciding on the target doesn’t imply that all of their arrows will hit it, but it is a point of focus. And with focus they can be both steadfast, and flexible, in pursuit.
Help your children find their target. That is the most important job you can do.
Julia Hanschell can be contacted at [email protected]
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