The Jewel in Your Crown
The journey of lifelong learning takes many twists and turns. It starts with discovery and finding out what you like. Is it science or biology? Perhaps languages are your thing. Maybe maths and physics are your callings. Uncovering what subjects to which you take a shine can open your mind to tremendous learning opportunities.
A life of continuous learning is largely dependent on choosing the right parents. Being born into an environment where education is valued, and part of life’s expectations is a critical starting point. Conversations around the dinner table, from a young age, about university and other learning journeys create fertile ground for the growth of young minds.
There are several points where choices must be made, and the number of paths leading into the future must be reduced. Such a point is choosing matric subjects. Later, selecting a tertiary path is a further reduction. Or so it seems.
There are tertiary paths that may look like a narrowing of future opportunities but are paving the way for a broader opportunity set later in life. The most obvious of these paths is that of engineering. This isn’t easy to see while young. With the benefit of age and wisdom, future opportunities in life are far more abundant for those with a math and science background compared to other skill sets. That is not to say that people with different skills cannot be highly successful and happy with their choices.
Unfortunately, South Africa has one of the world’s lowest skill levels in math. That is a tragedy inflicted on our population by a socialist ideology that will cause decades of suffering. Those who have managed to escape this ideology because of private schooling or luck will likely be able to exploit future learning opportunities.
A principle of Option Theory is being able to wait before committing to a path of action. In education, acquiring a broad set of skills before committing to a career path is a valuable outcome of applying option theory. A classic example shows up in the number of engineers who ultimately find themselves in the financial and information technology sectors.
An engineering degree may be a path to specialisation for some, but for many, it is an opportunity to acquire skills in general problem-solving and innovative thinking. These skills can lead to an infinite number of alternative paths. Paths that might be closed to those who specialise too soon.
Ultimately a path of focus must emerge. We must all find a path that leads to a specialisation or a skill set that sits at one’s core. The jewel in the crown that shines brighter than all the other skills. That jewel may not be obvious, like the jewel hidden in the picture.
Resist your urge to get defensive. There is one thing!
Ask yourself, what is the jewel in your crown? If you are young, less than thirty years old, you might ask what you want that jewel to be.