For our grade 9 children the time to choose subjects has arrived. In an ideal world, the subjects should be chosen with a career in mind to allow a seamless transition from high school to university to the world of work.
The reality is that frontal lobe development is only complete somewhere in our twenties. Being the area of the brain responsible for planning, decision making and impulse control it is completely unfair to ask a child of 15 or 16 years to make decisions that have large life implications. How then do children go about making this important decision?
A very common trend is to take the subjects friends are taking; after all the assumption is they’ll be friends forever and will always like the same things. As parents – and older beings – we know different but our opinions seem to have little impact on this age group. Another common trend is to take the subjects one enjoys. Again, with frontal lobe development still continuing, interests may well change before the end of school making this another unsuitable option. What then is left? The subjects one is good at? Considering we tend to succeed in subjects because we enjoy them, this too is not an ideal solution.
For those families – and it does tend to be a family decision – where the subject choice is unclear, an aptitude test can be the answer. The results provide an indication of where innate ability lies. Together with an occupational interest assessment, a broad profile of interest and ability can be determined and where these areas overlap should lie the ideal subjects to take. Yes, I did say interests may change but by looking at occupational interests over the immediate subject interest we gain insight into greater and varied areas of occupational interest.