The top 25 jobs of the future don’t even exist yet. Of course we want education to prepare people for the future workplace. The problem is that history has proven that the top jobs of one decade were non-existent jobs just a few decades earlier. This makes sense; it’s the newest skills that are in the highest demand because the older sector of the workforce cannot provide the skills based on experience.
In each generation, college recruiters give us a good sense of how divergent the coming generation is from previous generations. And today, kids are earning scholarships to play on video game teams. Gaming companies leverage their huge cash reserves to create a new type of professional athlete, and in response, colleges are able to recruit gamers like they recruit athletes.
So how can homeschoolers use these trends? You can’t prepare kids for specific jobs, but you can prepare them to choose jobs where they’ll find success.
Help your kids learn to be passionate about what they do. It’s always been the case that we are happiest doing something we are passionate about. To figure out where a kid’s passions are, get a good sense of what fulfillment means to that kid. Each of us has personality proclivities and with sixteen types of personalities, there are at least sixteen possibilities for the circumstances that create fulfillment. These proclivities are true for even young kids and it’s essential for you to help your kids find that in themselves.
Education today should not be focused on becoming well-rounded—that’s what we used to do; well-roundedness was intended to make people more valuable for factory work. Today, we value people over machines, and we educate people to do what they are most capable of doing, rather than what a machine most needs help doing.
Help your kids to learn to specialize. John-Paul Ferguson, professor at Stanford University provides a wide-sweeping summary of data that shows that people who specialize earn more money later in their career. But he also shows that very early specialization, while not necessarily correlating to higher pay early in one’s career, does correlate as a signal of future success.
Pleasure and specialization are related both in your work and your personal life. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi published research about specializing in his book Flow. From that we know that when we are most engaged we are happiest, and expertise promotes engagement.
The diamond industry discovered that the link between specialized knowledge and pleasure is true for more than just our work. The Atlantic magazine shows that the history of diamond pricing is actually the history of educating the consumer about diamonds. Some consumers find pleasure in purchasing diamonds based on color, but there are a wide range of other expertise to teach consumers, like diamond shapes, that will also create a pleasurable diamond buying experience.
It’s not surprising that consumer research can inform education strategies. The point of education is to make us feel good about ourselves, and, ironically, that is also the point of consumerism.