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Selecting a course of study

I remember visiting my father at his place of work as a young child, later in my teenage years I even got some holiday employment there. It was a busy place employing many people who always seemed to be active with a sense of urgency. My father worked in the Post Office, where had been employed at the age of 15 and he remained there until his sixtieth birthday. He worked in the Telegraph section that was concerned with the sending and receiving of telegrams. To do his job he had to be highly skilled in Morse code and be able to tap out messages in a mysterious sequence of dots and dashes at astonishing speed. He would amaze me by reading the seemingly random patterns of dots punched out of long lengths of ticker tapes. He was proud to tell me that his job would last forever and that the future for our family was secure.
Now in 2015 there is no such thing as a Telegraph Office. Morse code operators are almost extinct and it is the time of a different cutting edge technology. The arrival of the home computer has redefined the means by which we communicate and changed the value we put on words (in my father’s time each word on a telegram cost money and words were chosen carefully and with accuracy). Now we can send more information including illustrations or videos, faster and without the need of a middle person as the message sender and receiver. Skill in Morse code has no value anymore. Interestingly my father was very concerned about my choice of studying Fine Arts because he believed it was a career with a limited future.
It is this idea of the future that I invite you to reflect upon when making your subject choices for next year. The reading I do on this subject seems agreed on a couple of important points:
1.Young people who are about to enter the work force will most likely change their jobs about five or six times. This does not mean moving from one job to another almost identical one, like a teacher changing schools. This means changing the complete nature of what you do and how you do it.
2.That many jobs of the future do not even exist yet and we can only guess at what they might be or look like. If my father were alive today, he would marvel at his grandson working on digital animation creating entire fantasy scenes to be used Hobbit movies. He would also shake his head in wonder to hear that the same young man has just given away this career to join the police force. The whole idea of a stable and steady career has been overturned in a new world where flexibility and adaptability are the key skills people need.
3.So what should you do when it comes to the important decision of selecting subjects for your IB Diploma at AIC? Actually, I cannot give you a definitive answer; it is your course and in the end you have to choose. But I can offer some advice for you to consider. Do things that you enjoy. Probably you enjoy them because you are good at them and they challenge and engage you.
Do not make a selection based on the teacher. What you are seeking is subject knowledge and skills. This is quite different from enjoying someone’s class because they are funny or entertaining
Find out what skills are really involved in the subjects you are considering. Often it is more than learning about a novel or a moment in History. It usually involves a way of thinking and researching where the context is more important than the content.
Research where a subject might take you. This is a bit like the previous one. Consider how the skills inside the subject can be used later in your academic life.
Keep the doors open. Part of being flexible and adaptable is keeping your future options open and not shutting them down.
So there you are… I have talked about making subject choices without even mentioning a single subject. This is because the old idea of giving things names does not always fit with the skills and ideas within them. The challenge I have given you is to prepare yourself for an exciting but uncertain future where you will probably have several totally different jobs and many of them will in themselves be completely new.
Are you ready to take up the challenge of preparing yourself for a world that wants flexibility and adaptability? Or are you just drifting along waiting for the …

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