Students’ Interests, Talents, and Future Careers – Teacher’s Corner

Teacher’s Corner
In the past, many have said students shouldn’t be thinking about careers too early. How do you know they won’t decide early they want to be a nurse, stay on that path, get educated, and then realize they really want to be a professional golfer? Look at how many adults are trapped in jobs that are not at all fulfilling to them because they settled on it too early in life.
This argument may have had some value years ago, but not so much anymore. A student today will have multiple careers in his or her lifetime. That is what our fast-changing world demands these days.
Because of this, we can look at the early interests and talents of students as an important first step to possibly a first career while also being a steppingstone to many other different careers as well. In fact, the world of work has changed amazingly. Future workers may have as many as half a dozen different careers in their lifetime.
Being able to combine an early first interest with another and another interest down the road will only make a person more valuable and successful over time. “Nurse Andy” can learn a lot about medicine in that career and still become a great golfer in a second career by using what he knows about the human body, health, and wellness.
Students need to start early to think of careers in terms of many possibilities, not just one. That famous question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is not really the best question nowadays.  Even if a student’s answer ends up being a first job, it will not likely be his or her only job.
I suggest you ask instead, “What are three things you want to do when you grow up?” It will encourage students to think they have lots of things they can do in the future. How exciting is that?  If a student wants to be both a dancer and a firefighter – he or she can.
All their interests and skills are like building blocks which students can stack up over time in their own unique way. So, don’t worry about students thinking of their interests and skills as a career – no matter how young they are. Just make sure they know that changing their mind is OK – not only just OK, but one more thing that makes them special.

The following are writing prompts and discussion topics you can use to let your students think about their unique interests and talents.

  1. What is one thing you like learning about and becoming an “expert” on? Explain what it is about this thing that interests you. Describe any chances you have had to explore your interest.
  2. What skills are needed to become an “expert” in your area of interest?  Have you developed any special talents related to your area of interest? If so, how did you develop those talents?  
  3. What are three (3) things you want to be when you grow up? Explain why you have chosen those three things. Can any of those careers combine with your area of interest from the above questions? If so, describe how they might combine with a career. 
Teachers, you can use this blog in classrooms. Here are two ideas about how.
  1. For middle or high school parenting or child development courses:
    • Use the blog for discussion topics
    • Require students to research the topics and agree or disagree with what the blog is suggesting.
  2. For all courses, especially English Language Arts:
  • Use the blog for writing prompts for paragraphs, theme papers, journal entries, class starters, etc. Have students read the blog and respond to:
  • Do you agree with what is being said about kids? Do kids really act, think or feel that way?
  • Do you agree with what is being said about parents, grandparents, teachers and child caregivers? Do or should they act, think or feel that way?
  • What would be your advice on this topic?
  • What was left out of this article?
  • If you were a parent, would you use any of this information? How?
Why can this blog be a useful teaching tool?
  • Students that see connections between their coursework and their lives do better in school.
  • Most students will either be parents one day or have children in their lives that they care about, so the topical information can help them build their knowledge about children and parenting and develop a positive image of the type of parenting they want to do.
  • The new core literacy standards adopted by most states call for frequent writing in all courses.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can think critically. These prompts help students practice critical thinking.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can analyze what they read. These prompts help students practice analysis.

What do you think?

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