What Could Be Missing in Your Student’s

For those of us who have chosen to enroll our children in classical education, or have pursued a career in the field ourselves, we’re deeply familiar with its benefits: the ways it follows a child’s natural development; the commitment to strategic thinking; its priority of the arts, humanities, and language; and the overall dedication to the true, the good, and the beautiful.

However, in pursuit of these worthy attributes, an inadvertent blindspot can emerge, one that the team at Life Architects became increasingly aware of during our years in college guidance, assisting high school students as they were preparing to take their next steps beyond graduation. Many of us have overlooked the importance of identifying a vocational calling within our students.

What does vocational calling even mean?

Simply put, vocational calling is a belief that each and every person is designed by God with unique abilities to glorify Him through the specific work He has prepared in advance for them to do.

If we’re not careful, the idea of identifying vocation can be brushed aside as something that’s utilitarian. The student makes the grades, writes the essays and takes the standardized tests, is accepted to a university and is then set for life, with a trajectory for a career and ability to provide for themselves without a whole lot of nuance or intentional thought. It becomes a transactional type of education, rather than transformational, a stark departure from their years in the classical school community.

Two men are playing football on a field.

Conversely, the idea of identifying a vocational calling begins with discipleship in a community years before college decisions are on the horizon. Teachers, coaches and parents partner with the student to speak to their strengths, to systematically identify areas of giftedness, year after year, building a “database†of personal feedback the student can recall. Intentional conversations about interests, favorite classes and topics that ignite passion are woven throughout their years of development.

Additionally, objective data is gathered as a valuable resource for future decision-making. Aptitude testing, like the Highlands Ability Battery, provides students with an assessment not of just their skill, but of how they move through the world. It measures abilities, rather than knowledge, that can’t be self-reported, and, in many cases, are difficult to identify in the classroom.

If you’re interested in uncovering your student’s vocational calling, the first step we recommend is to get clear on their God-given abilities through testing. The benefits of this data collection pay dividends on their future.

Objective Results

It goes without saying that this topic is deeply personal. If we could measure these abilities ourselves, would we be able to escape our own bias? The beauty of tests like the Highlands Ability Battery is to bring truth to light. The test measures 18 different innate abilities plus 1 skill, not knowledge or even skills that can be practiced or developed.

For example, one area of assessment is the participant’s ability to think in 3-D, a necessary component for those in the engineering or design fields. Everyone has the ability to think in 3-D to a particular degree, but some are more gifted in this area than others. The test will identify where the student falls along the continuum.

These assessments show us how God uniquely created each student, meaning, the results don’t change over time – it’s a reflection of their unique makeup.

Creates Context for Conversation

A man and woman looking at a cell phone.

It’s not uncommon for a parent or student to struggle with language when trying to describe their personalities, abilities, and interests. A new way of thinking often requires new terminology, and as we begin to explore vocational calling, a shared language allows for clearer communication.

Clear communication can be critical when it comes to the topic of life beyond graduation. Sometimes, these conversations, particularly between a parent and student, can be emotionally tense. It’s not unlikely for Mom and Dad to have a different vision for their child’s future than the student does. Being able to create connection through language and data can bring clarity to some sensitive conversations.

Provides Self Awareness

High school is a time where many students feel self aware in some of the most painful ways possible. They’re aware of their academic weaknesses, they’re aware of the goal they missed in the game or the part in the play they didn’t get, they’re aware of the social dynamics that feel isolating. Many of us are keenly aware of the ways we don’t measure up and often blind to the areas where we really shine.

As the name suggests, a natural gifting is … natural. It doesn’t require a tremendous amount of effort or thought, it’s an element of how God designed us to contribute to the world. Therefore, we likely don’t give it a whole lot of thought or even value. Aptitude testing gives the gift of identifying those places that can be hard to see, examining ourselves in areas that we’ve likely taken for granted.

Once we have this information about ourselves, there’s a compelling force to act. “What do I do with my life now that I know this about myself?†It’s a springboard for some beautiful conversations.

Can Result in Cost Savings

A person holding an iphone with numbers on it.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 30% of college students change their major. And with the rising costs of tuition, those changes could come with a hefty price tag.

Data from an aptitude test can provide critical information beforehand, outlining the skills your child possesses and how that might align with the career they’re considering. Making decisions about the future within this framework could save your student a lot of heartache, time and resources.

Whether you pursue aptitude testing through your school or independently, once you have the information, engage with the data within community. Your student can share these results with those they trust in their life and they’ll likely discover even more about themselves through the lens of other’s perspectives.

A woman with glasses and blonde hair wearing a black jacket.

Life Architects Founder and CEO Tami Peterson is a designer by vocation, creating lesson plans, curricula, and experiences her whole life. She holds an undergraduate degree in Christian Education from Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO, and an MA in Leadership, Theology, and Society from Regent College in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Her occupational titles have included elementary, middle, and high school teacher, librarian, admissions director, career coach, and director of college advising.

Her title at Life Architects is founder and creative engagement officer, where she designs and directs a variety of projects and helps everyone flourish by connecting with individuals, families, and institutions. Tami is married and has two adult children.

This blog is part of a larger conversation from Life Architects Founder and CEO Tami Peterson’s interview on the Society for Classical Learning’s podcast BaseCamp Live, hosted by Davies Owens. You can listen to the full episode here.

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