True changemakers are typically those who go against the grain, who do not follow the normal path. In the context of education, this “normal path” is for young folks to finish high school, then go immediately off to Uni.
Then, as the story goes, they graduate, join the real world, get jobs and contribute to society. Check.
Spiking drop-out rates, however, have raised serious alarms, and experts have advocated for students to take a GAP year. Young people who choose this route often go on a walkabout and — as most parents know — the results vary widely.
On the one hand, they embark on a Homeric adventure to find themselves, and I’ll be the first one to say there is massive value to that. To have the time to slow down, to see new places, to look inward, is priceless.
What happens, more often than not, is not so romantic. People come back home and they are right back where they started, though instead of being on the familiar, single path, they are at a crossroads. Or, two steps back with no path in sight.
I offer what I hope to be a compelling plot twist:
Rather than kids going on a GAP year, consider what I’ve coined the “WAP” year (Work And Play). Basically, instead of your son or daughter ending up at yet another Full Moon Party on a beach in Thailand, a WAP year is where they choose to benefit from a year getting really clear on what kind of job and industry their personality is suited to.
This isn’t “work experience,” but rather an immersion in the culture of a particular industry. They try it out, wear it for awhile, and see if it fits.
When I work with entrepreneurs[http://tcb.rocks/tcb-entrepreneurs/], teams, or entire organisations, I find it helpful for people to think about themselves in terms of personality types. There are a number of systems, like the Myers-Briggs test, that do this. They work fine, but they are a bit too academic for my taste and I find that they complicate matters so much more than necessary.
I say start simple, then get sexy later. My experience tells me that people generally fit into one of the following four categories:
1. Ideas Person: Suited to innovative careers like architect, design, artist, and running workshops.
2. People Person: Extroverts who get inspiration through people. Well suited to sales, marketing and management.
3. Grounded Person: Nurturers who follow everything to completion like customer service, and project managers.
4. Analyst: Often introverted and prefers to work alone. Suited to bookkeeping, improving systems and finances.
So, by first determining what kind of personality they are, then choosing an industry that is suited to that, young people can explore a career and — at the same time — who they are, in ways potentially more practical than a GAP year.
On top of that a WAP year does not rule out travelling or school. It simply defers them in favour of a different set of values which increases their chances for success in all areas of life.