The Road Traveled

##AUTHORSPLIT##<--->Was becoming an educator the right career move for you?An old career-planning profiler indicates it was for me.

Geoffrey H. Fletcher"WHAT WOULD YOU BE if you had notgone into education?"

I was asked to contemplate this very question prior to going on an organizational retreat years ago, and I imagined that my answer, along with the answers of all the other participants, would be used as an icebreaker. My response came easily: a rock 'n' roll star. Done with that, I went on to more substantive matters, such as the company budget.

Later that day, while digging through my unruly file cabinet, I saw a folder with a bunch of memorabilia from my old school days. Among the elementary school report cards and their reminders of my inability to stay quiet and attentive in class, I found this: Profile Sheet for the Kuder Preference Record-Vocational.

The Kuder Preference Records are still around, and there must be more than a hundred Kuder tests listed on the company's website. The one I still remember vividly from the time I took it at age 16 was a forced-choice test in which I, along with an auditorium full of my peers, was asked whether I preferred one activity over another, such as, "Do you prefer hiking in the woods or reading a book?"

I still recall sitting in the auditorium with a lapboard that sat on the arms of my chair and was propped on the back of the seat in front of me, and using a pushpin to poke a hole in each circle beside the answer of my choice. For the 1960s, that was hightech. Now you can take some of those same tests on the web.

I also remember the feeling I got a month later, when the tests were returned and I plotted my results on the profile sheet. The test was supposed to tell me the kinds of activities I liked, and thus the kinds of jobs I would enjoy. Finally I would get some direction in my life and some help choosing a college major, which weighed heavy on my mind even though I was only a junior in high school at the time.

Interestingly, the results accurately foreshadowed my career choice. I scored highest in three categories: Literary ("You like to read and write"); Social Service ("Indicates a preference for helping people"); and Persuasive ("You like to meet and deal with people and promote projects"). What came as no surprise is my low score in Mechanical-still oh so true.

What would I be if I had not gone into education? My profile from more than 40 years ago says I would have been a novelist, historian, librarian, minister, social worker, or politician. I certainly would not have been an automobile mechanic. As for being a rock 'n' roller-afraid not. My profile said that my interest in music was only average.

How about you? What path would you have taken had you not become an educator? Just something to ponder on a winter's day.

FYI: Last month, I discussed an initiative called the Congress on the Future of Content in Education and noted that further information would be found on a website.

-Geoffrey H. Fletcher, Editorial director

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2008 issue of THE Journal.