December 22 – what she said

151/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s that time of year – no, not Christmas but rather grade 12 students making plans for life decisions: starting work, applying for universities and colleges, taking time off and traveling etc. I know from personal experience and also that of my daughter’s experience as well as the students I teach that it is such a difficult decision to setting one on the path they are going to follow for life (yes, changes can be made but most people get used to the status quo). In my daughter’s case and for some of my students, I was able to give some advice based on my own personal experiences but the same did not happen for me. I am the oldest child of immigrant parents who did not go to university. I am the oldest of all my cousins (in Canada). I basically felt the pressure – both implicitly (relatives asking indirect questions) and explicitly (relatives telling me what to do) – which added to my grade 12 stress. I would have been happy being a gas jockey but I knew that that would not be what my parents nor my extended family would want me to do. The person who helped me was the Career Guidance counselor (not the regular counselor). I believe her name was Ms Paxton. I remember making an appointment and going through some of the earlier precursors to the Myers-Briggs and other personality tests. I recall a battery of questions over the hour plus session and then I was called back a week later for the results – no, it wasn’t instantaneous as I went to school before the internet era!! Upon reviewing my results, I was disillusioned. Over the week, I was excited to find out what I should/could be doing for a career but nothing definitive came from the tests. I initially thought I wasted my time (plus I missed an hour of class – yup, I’m that guy). However, Ms Paxton pointed out that although it didn’t show me plainly what I should be doing, it did definitely point out what I shouldn’t be doing! I was surprised but reassured – I recall one of the things being that I do not like working with my hands and it delineated careers I should not pursue: gardener, repair person and ditch digger (I specifically remember that LOL). I knew that was right – I didn’t like working with my hands but I wouldn’t have been able to acknowledge that myself specifically and it made my decision for fields to pursue in university that much easier. Of course, I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher until my first degree was done (see gratitude post 2/365) but Ms Paxton’s interpretation of my results and subsequent advice set me on the road leading to the path I was to end up on. Thank you Ms Paxton and in your honour, I will continue to advise my students to the best of my abilities.

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