Special Guest Contributor Andrew H. Potter
As a fan of the world and ways of Harry Potter, I am often reminded of one pithy but important observation by the sage of Hogwarts, Professor Albertus Dumbledore: “Curiosity is not a sin.”
In our current globalized, post-industrial, knowledge economy I often observe that the very real risk of disruption is, unfortunately, fostering an overly utilitarian, realistic, and prescribed approach to career planning. What is most ironic about this situation is the predictions of the recent FutureWork report from the US Department of Labor. Simply, 65% of today’s primary students will have careers that do not currently exist, yet we continue to often require that those very students pick an existing career.
How do we prepare today’s students for a tomorrow that is yet amorphous and ill-defined? I defer to the classic tome of career planning philosophy—Alice in Wonderland.
In this childhood fantasy, Alice arrives at a fork in the road and asks the Cheshire cat, “Which road should I take?” The cat replies, “Where are you going?” To which Alice responds, “I don’t know”. The Cheshire cat answers, “Then it doesn’t matter which road you take.” While the obvious lesson certainly relates to the sheer ludicrous prospect of procuring directions from felines, the essence of this dialogue is that direction, not distance determines destiny. Simply put, we need to help primary age students figure out their direction, rather than simply requiring them to select some destination point in the distance.
I think Ayah Bdeir, the founder of littleBits, was exactly right when she noted, “What we want to do is help ignite kids’ passions, unleash their inner inventor, build up their own confidence so that they can be the ones to invent the world they want to live in”.
Instead of channeling or reforming the curiosity of our primary age learners, let’s amplify that curiosity. If they want to build wings for their cat so that it can fly—awesome, let’s help them figure it out. Empowering them with a design thinking process that allows them to create their own solution and their own career will produce more than interesting refrigerator art—it will equip them with a sense of direction that will give shape and meaning to their own passions.
At Envision, we have found that helping students discover their passion through the amplification of their curiosity enables those very students to find a sense of purpose that gives them direction within the ever-changing list of career potentials. Not to mention, this approach to teaching and learning is a heck of a lot of fun.
From future superheroes to princesses, from Jedi masters to fireman, our students come pre-loaded with curiosity and a sense of adventure that would challenge even the imaginations of Rick Riordan, JK Rowling, JR Tolkien, and George Lucas.
As educators and parents, let’s leverage this, even if the muggle wants to be a wizard…
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Andrew H. Potter is the Chief Academic Officer at Envision, one of the nation’s leading college and career readiness organizations. In this role, he directs the organization’s academic strategy and oversees the development of faculty, curriculum, methods, and pedagogy that annually enable 25,000 students to find their passion, try out a career, and build a pathway to get there. Learn more at Envision Experience.