I just got home from a math contest for the high school kids. The questions for the contest were developed by a college professor in Montgomery. Out of 50 questions, the highest score in the room was 41 correct. There were some questions on the test that were way above any high school math level. And many questions involved some obscure concept that was only taught for a day or so and that was months or years ago. How in the world can we say such testing is a predictor of future success? In our team’s case we placed third in one section of the test, but far down the line on the written exam and overall. And no one was near placing in the top two places for individual scores. These are not good success predictors would you say?
After the test, I went to lunch with our seven student participants to the place of their choice, a local high end pizza restaurant. Now understand that these are among the best seniors we have at our school. Three were Junior Miss contestants and one won that title for the county for 2011. One is the president of the senior class and two others are class officers. One is co-captain of the cheer leading squad. One leads a voluntary Bible study after school once a week and another is a classical pianist. The class valedictorian and salutatorian will come from these seven. No slackers here. Their family backgrounds are as diverse as they are, from farming to banking and an airline pilot.
They chose to sit outside, as the sun was bright and the temperature an unseasonal 61 deg. During lunch, the seven shared a comradeship that was bred through years of close association and friendship. They laughed & joked, told stories and shared pizza. They bounced to the music that played through the restaurant speakers; a mix of 60’s to 90’s rock and pop. Surprisingly they knew the words to many of the songs including ones by Queen and the Beatles. They worked their cell phones but only in text mode, never losing their focus on the group and the table talk.
We were there over an hour and in that time here’s what I did not hear: Discouraging words; hateful comments; angry responses; cussing of any kind; or criticism. Now I may have missed something but I doubt it.
They voluntarily opened the meal with grace and closed with sharing the meal cost as they had agreed at the beginning.
I think I have found a better predictor of success. I would hire any one of these seven in a heartbeat. I hope in the future someone like these looks to you for a job because they will raise your organization’s morale just by walking through the door. The future is theirs and they are ready for it.
Gene Canavan is retired and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA