Sunday, 27 September 2015

Finding Your Element

Sir Ken Robinson , the renowned Author and  International  advisor on education, defines the Element as that point when Natural Aptitude meets Personal Passion. It is the point where people are inspired to the fullest and achieve at their highest levels*.
Sir Ken Robinson 
Today Creativity, Innovation, Collaboration and critical thinking are at the forefront of the work environment and companies look at hiring graduates who have specific skills outside of academics and confident of where their Element lies. In a recent development Ernest & Young, the biggest graduate recruiter in the UK, has dropped the qualification criteria in their hiring process and have started using tests to gauge candidate suitability saying there is "no evidence" that success at university correlates with achievement in later life. While credentials will still be looked at, they will not pose a barrier to getting a foot in the door’
Increasingly Universities are also adopting a holistic approach in their admissions process, looking for students with good grades as well as a host of other non scholastic skills .
Hence, finding ones Element or Aptitude and Interests becomes essential for students and young graduates in order to be ready for the Future. In the  4 step career planning process, Self Evaluation is the absolute first step as it is important to not only know one’s areas of strength but also one’s challenges as well. This then becomes the basis of making informed choices starting at that critical period in a student’s life where she/he needs to choose subjects for high school.
How does one measure Skills or Aptitudes, Interest & Personality?
Psychometrics is the science of measuring and analysing aspects of a person’s aptitude , interests or personality in a statistically valid and quantifiable manner.
Although there is clear evidence of the growing importance of psychometrics in education, this area is somewhat neglected.  With course work, tests and projects to complete, come decision time, the onus of subject selection falls squarely on the student/parent. Very often students and parents fall back on the “tried & tested” academic scores method –High scores often are encouraged to choose Science over Commerce or Arts streams . In addition the students are very young and may not know enough of potential careers or trending careers to make subject choices.
Psychometrics in Education- How it can help.
Psychometrics analyses  3 key measures . Motivation which refer to the student’s cluster of interests, Aptitude his /her inherent potential and Personality, aspects of behavior. These provide valuable insight on a range of measures that are often not tested as part of the school curriculum.
Every occupation or career requires certain aptitudes/skill sets. With years of research backing, Psychometric tests are now able to isolate and measure accurately, a complete spectrum of Aptitudes, Interests and Personality characteristics associated with different careers. Mapping those to the students profile gives a clear picture as to which careers would be a better fit to the  student .
For example, T has exceptional creative skills. He can create pictures, form ideas in his mind and bring them out as an art form, navigate using maps and his mom always asks him to pack their bags when going on a vacation as he is able to understand very quickly which bags might be too big or too small. Simple indicators like that point to T having excellent Spatial skills.
Spatial skills are important in many fields of study - Math, Sciences, Engineering, Art and Design all involve the use of spatial skills. An engineer needs spatial and 3 Dimensional skills in order to visualize the internal workings of various parts of a problem, machine etc., a radiologist needs spatial skills to interpret the images on an X ray. T therefore might be suited to those careers. However it is important to bear in mid how high the spatial skills are and if there are other high skills as wel.

Psychometrics identify the range of  skill sets of the student and effectively compares or matches them with the skill requirements for various careers . It often highlights inherent skills within us which we have not recognized due to the fact that we may not have had opportunities  which required us to use those skills.
Lets look at some of the benefits of doing a Psychometrics Test
  • They identify untapped potential  and provide clarity in the all important  step of Self Evaluation.  
  • The results of the tests helps students set up a career plan,  to make future educational choices by clearly identifying skills sets.
  • They are useful for /examining discrepancies between ability and school performance.
  • The tests play an important role in encouraging young people to focus on realistic and achievable goals.
  •  Guidance counsellors and teachers can use the results to help and advise students and their parents as they prepare to make important life and career decisions.

 Very often we hear students tell us that they don’t need to take a Psychometric Assessment as they already know what they want to do in life in terms of a career. The world however is moving at a fantastic pace powered by technology. New careers emerge every few years some replacing existing stable career paths. Keeping in mind the high rate of evolution, students will enter the job environment 4 to 5 years after high school and may find a very different scenario to what they had envisioned. Understanding one’s skills will give them the confidence to approach new careers with conviction of success
Career Planning is not a linear process and requires a lot of introspection and research. It must be built on a process and the absolute starting point is Self evaluation. Psychometrics is a fantastic tool that can help you in this all important step. If you haven’t done one yet, its not too late.  Find your element!
*Finding your Element : How to discover your Talents and Passions and Transform your life.

The secret source within us

Motivation ..  What makes some children more motivated than others? Is it a reflection of how we are as parents? If we are hard working and constantly reaching beyond our comfort zone , does that mean our children will also be like us having subconsciously imbibed those traits? But is there a secret ingredient that creates and sustains this wonderful source of motivation deep within our children? And the key word here is sustain.  Somewhere in  their journey to puberty and beyond, children seem to “disengage” themselves from what is happening around them. Of course I’m generalising here but we do see a lot of children and parents year on year and this disengagement  seems to be a constant refrain.

So how do we motivate our children? Motivation is that secret ingredient  that makes us do our best or makes us want to do our best.  When we look at highly motivated people certain characteristics stand out. These individuals always seem highly optimistic and appear to have goals that they are working towards. It seems as if they have understood their purpose in life. They already have a ‘success aura around them. I could do with a bit of that aura!!

We can, as care givers, help our children to be intrinsically motivated. To always be fearless and confident. As teachers we are constantly reminded to construct our activities to ensure that learning is always fun and relatable to their world. To always be able to recognise certain interests that they may display and to work those interests  into   extended activities that guarantees further learning.

What we can do at home as parents is to  always encourage our children to go after their  interests and make discoveries on their own. We can scaffold this further by relating it to their experiences or even just researching it online along with the children. Saying ‘ I didnt know that or ‘ Wow I learnt something new today  can create an environment which clearly indicates to children  that learning is always welcome in our household .   It is not difficult to do this as some parents tell us. The difficulty lies in our inability to think ‘current’ cos for many of us it may be something new and we don’t want to cut  a sheepish figure in front of our children.

Its ok to let them know that we are learning as well. What is not ok though is to give them material rewards for things. External Motivation in the form of rewards or bribes have a very short life span and  don’t work in the long run. Another mistake is to take over. Anything and everything that the child has to do or wants to do , we rush in.. to design the whole thing, to make it just right,  which effectively kills any iota of  motivation that the child may have had. All of us have done this , myself  included.

 Be ready with praise where it is needed. Hold back the  criticisms .With the right words, we can make positive statements and those go a long way to foster self worth and   motivation. With just a slight adjustment and tweaking of our actions we can help nuture highly motivated individuals who in turn can inspire and lead from the front.