Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Do not hasten your child to chose his/her education path after 10th at the last moment, instead give him/her enough time to equip

As we discussed elsewhere, our  subconscious mind takes the decision without our conscious knowledge most of the time. Psychologists believe that we are cognitive misers, people who are lazy in using the conscious mind. But this approach paralyses us because we are unable to face the unintended consequences of the chosen path.

Path is never right or wrong

This phenomenon happens with the student of 10th class. He/She unknowingly chooses his/her next path after 10th either by following his/her friend or by agreeing with the parents. But this does not prepare him/her to face the unintended consequences of a chosen path. 

Unintended Consequence 1: Chosen path cannot be continued because of lack of  ' necessary ability'

Jeevan's father wanted to become a doctor. So Jeevan always wanted to be a doctor. But Jeevan was very good in drawing. He stood 3rd in Maharashtra state in elementary exam. In 10th, he approched me to ask different medical colleges that he could chose.

Jeevan chose the education path of medicine, because of subtle and indirect pressure of his father who wanted to become a Doctor. Unfortunately, he could not get enough marks to take up MBBS. He chose Homeopathy. However, he failed in the first year of Homeopathy.

Students find it very difficult to assess the depth of their own abilities. Marks in the school, the indicator of ability, often mislead. Aptitude tests also do not measure these abilities any more 'accurately', because they are based on 'abstract thinking', which students cannot do because of lack of practice. It therefore takes time to understand the extent of one's ability. 

Unintended Consequence 2: Chosen path faces unexpected hurdles 

Sayali was an academically good student who had scored 90%+ marks in Xth class. She chose the education path of Engineering  without thinking deeply.
But in XIIth she failed to score enough marks in JEE to get a good college. So she was confused? Should she take a year break and try again next year? Or should she join a Tier-2 college but stick to her discipline of IT? Or should she join a college ignoring her choice of discipline? Should she chose a college where her better communication ability gets developed , as her logical ability was not enough to help her get good marks in JEE? Or should she join a college that will help her grow her 'logical ability' further? 

Because Sayali had chosen 'Engineering path' unconsciously with her subconscious mind, Sayali was not prepared to face these tough questions which requires conscious mind. When subconscious mind makes such decisions in haste, one is not equipped.

Students like Sayali cannot change their own decisions because they are 'stuck' in their own beliefs of what is right. Identifying and altering these beliefs once again take time.

Unintended Consequence 3: Chosen path do not fulfill unrealistic aspirations 

Here is another case of Abhay, whom i met 5 years back.

Abhay did everything right to get into IIT. He went to Kota to get through JEE exam. He got in Mumbai IIT. 
But in the third year of IIT, he felt he had made a wrong choice because he did not wanted to do technical job after graduation, because according to him, "Starting pay after IIM is at least 20 lakhs pa". So he decided to go for MBA immediately after graduating.  

Abhay is just comparing himself with others all the time. He does not have the skills to find what he wants. So he chooses his wants by comparing with others. If you are not aware, more than 50% of the engineering graduates do MBA immediately after graduation. Abhay's case is therefore not unusual.

Aspirations change without our conscious intentions. Until one's motivation is intrinsic, not extrinsic, it is difficult to control one's aspirations.

Equip the child to face the consequences of a chosen path

No choice is right or wrong. Choice becomes right (or wrong) only if one is equipped ( or not equipped) to face the consequences - both intended and unintended - of a chosen path. Because every child is different, one cannot factor all the possible hurdles and help the child plan. We must instead equip the child to get ready.

I follow these three steps to equip the child:

Step 1. Build enough confidence in the child to help him ask the right questions

Because Jeevan was not confident enough to say " I cannot do medicine because my ability is less", he was not able to tell his father that he cannot 'manage the studies of medicine'. Because Sayali was not confident in saying that " I may get less marks', she was unprepared to handle the hurdle of low marks.

A child is not confident or diffident. It is not a natural trait. Confidence depends on two variables. One, when the child can 'express his thoughts and ideas', he feels confident. Two, when the child understands the events - social, commercial, political - around him, he can form his own opinions which makes him feel confident.

Not every child will need same time and efforts to build confidence. For instance, some children, who fare good in academics, have higher confidence than the children who fare poorly in academics.They require lesser effort and time.

Step 2. Help the child understand his own Motivation

Only when a child is confident, he/she can take this step to introspect and ask tough questions about his Self. Without the confidence, finding one's motivation becomes a bookish exercise.

Child is aware of internal triggers of motivation - his own emotions, interests, values - and external triggers of motivation - what is valued socially such as money. Over the period of time, the child has to be taught to shift the source of his motivation from external to internal triggers. This process of discovering self-motivation can be helped by helping the child understand his own emotions, self-beliefs, and self-awareness.

In Jeevan's case, he could not negotiate the hurdle in his Homeopathy path either due to poor academic ability ( which he did not acknowledge) or his motivation for Homeopathy was too low. Abhay's case is of inadequate self awareness. When self-awareness is inadequate, choices are made not on what one wants, but what others are doing, such as what Abhay was doing.

Step 3. Build the talent-unwrapping skills

There are many popular and unpopular beliefs (myths) of 'what is talent and how to unwrap it'. For instance, many students still believe that one has a 'unique talent', although it is clear that 'talent is not one single unique ability, but multiple abilities working together in tandem'. Every child absorbs these beliefs of talent unknowingly. This step helps him question his old beliefs of talent and institute new beliefs that help you unwrap your 'unique genius'.

For instance, Jeevan's belief that "Drawing ability cannot be used to make a career" stopped him in choosing the path of drawing career. Or Abhay's belief that " First job should fetch more money" forced him to leave technical field and join MBA without working in technical field. Abhay was not aware that once he 'masters' a skill, monetisation of skill can follow later. By mastering the skill first and then monetising it later, one can achieve both job satisfaction and monetary satisfaction. However, prioritising monetisation before mastery only offers money satisfaction. Beliefs are invisible and unconscious. Not aware of them we keep on making mistakes unknowingly.


All three steps build three different skills which require TIME. Give the child 2 years to equip himself/herself before 10th. Do not force the child to make his choice at the last moment in the Xth class. It is of no use.

And please remember that this choice will help him use his academic skills - whether he is the brilliant or average- to the fullest. Without making this choice in an appropriate way, even a brilliant student ( with good academic record) flounders. And by making this choice in an appropriate way, even an average student can flourish in his career.

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