This last week some of us had the chance to take a skills inventory/assessment called Kolbe A that looks at our assets and acknowledges the way we approach both communication and problem solving. Since I took Insights (slightly different inventory with wicked accurate results) about six years ago, I’ve wanted to create an inventory for high school kids—one that helps them think through what their strengths are and doesn’t track them in a specific vocation but helps them realize the choices they have and plays to their strengths as they think about what they want to do after high school. An inventory that would also help teachers understand how best to work with their students given the way they communicate and problem solve. How would they group students differently? How might they assign the work differently? What interests might they unlock? Admittedly, this is tricky and developmental. I like to think that my son will be an engineer because he loves Legos at age six (wishful thinking?). But what I really need to know when he’s older is how does he approach problems and how might school play to his strengths? How might I help him as a parent find his passion?
It might not surprise you that I’m off the charts on the Kolbe A in an area called “quick start”. It’s a characterization of a person who likes to take on gnarly challenges, take risks and doesn’t need a lot of direction to get started. The beauty of these tests is that they are so accurate and they remind you that when you approach a problem differently than your colleague, there isn’t anything wrong with you. I don’t think we’ll ever have enough career counselors in our schools to help every child in the way that they need it, but I do think these kinds of assessments might go a long way to help kids before consequential transitions/decisions in their lives. Employers are beginning to use these kinds of assessments to screen candidates. What if we used them with parents and teachers to help inform the way they worked with students/children and students got a better sense of their own strengths. The inventories are typically a short online set of questions that instantly turn around results, so they work in real time and are scalable. I think it would take someone who knows something about neurology and brain development; some psychologists that know a lot more about how these assessments are developed than I do; and some parents and educators to inform what would be useful to them. Any takers?