Just the past month, I have been tapped by my high school alma mater to teach the Organization and Management course to Grade 11 students under the General Academics Strand. Given that the K-12 reform in our educational system is in its early stages, I was (and still am) curious to discover the mindset of Grade 11 students. After all, during the previous educational system, Grade 11 students are supposedly college freshmen already. Are they experiencing the anxieties my college classmates and I had when we were froshies? What are they thinking in terms of going to college and setting themselves up for their prospective careers?
I had experience teaching a management course before to college students who were mostly taking up specialized business courses such as marketing, finance and corporate management. As a business course graduate myself, I had a better grasp of how to frame lessons in such a way that I can share my experiences and perspectives about the most relevant and practical lectures for real-life jobs. However, during my first day teaching the Grade 11 students, I immediately realized that I had to erase whatever preconceptions I had.
Future doctors, engineers, chefs, lawyers, accountants, advertisers and entrepreneurs. Such a variety of career paths! These were some of the professions my students mentioned when I asked them about their prospective careers. In addition, at least 20 percent to 30 percent of the class was still truly undecided on what they want to become.
Test the waters first
At that point, I had this personal realization: the senior high school levels make the ‘what-should-be-my-career’ limbo more pronounced. What I mean is that during my time, we were forced to make up our minds right away, choose a course in college and decide as soon as possible what jobs we want once we finish college – dilly-dallying was not a good option. Our high school graduation demanded that we choose a program right away and adopt the best frame of mind that suits our chosen course.
In today’s time, senior high school students have the ability to test the waters first before deciding for themselves what college courses to specialize at. Whether this is a blessing or a curse, I cannot say. But as a teacher, my critical question is: how can I meaningfully teach a management course to students who are uncertain of their career paths? I outline my initial strategies below:
1. Enrich the course by including discussions about career paths. My inference is that students will better appreciate a management course if it discusses how they can manage themselves. Instead of sticking to planning, organizing, leading and controlling organizations, I want my students to start thinking about the functions of management in their own career paths. If they aspire to be of certain professions, they should have the tools and venues where they can discuss how to set, if not make, their career paths.
2. Help students understand the roles of different professions in businesses and organizations. I am a fan of business model thinking since it paints a holistic way of how an organization and its different departments work with each other, as a system, towards a common goal. Related to this, I strive to let my students understand how their prospect professions give and receive value working for and with various organizations.
3. Emphasize management thinking skills versus concept memorization. Although doing this is tricky, I realize that management skills and thinking strategies are more transferrable to whatever courses or career paths students intend to take. From analyzing internal and external environments of organizations to making their own personal business models, I want the skills to stick to them more than anything else.
Create the best learning environment
As students and educators, we are all charting new waters, and thus it is imperative that we remain flexible and open in creating the best learning environment. I am inviting everyone to discuss and propose other strategies in pursuit of better education in our country.
Patrick Adriel H. Aure is currently a graduate researcher under the DLSU Center for Business Research and Development. He recently finished his MBA at the same university and is excited about exploring cases featuring social enterprises, sustainability, innovation, and new business models. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators