In 2008, I devised the first Multiple Natures test as a tool to help students identify their natures and ideal careers. It was an exciting moment when the first version of the software started to work and began showing us accurate results, perhaps something akin to when the Wright Brothers’ plane first caught air! We immediately began running the test with children at Jiva Public School, as well as in schools all over the country. Three years and 15,000 students later, we’ve seen the MN concept take flight; it has reached students from the metros all the way to rural locations, and has brought the same delight to children as they get clarity on their path to their professions.
One of the challenges with psychometric tests has been the interpretation part. Even though the MN Test has a clear format, and represents the results in a straightforward manner, many parents and children want a more detailed, personalized analysis. Many would like input from a counsellor – someone who understands them and can help them better apply the test’s advice to their lives.
Some time back, the demand for counselling also came to us from our own students and parents. So we set out to set up our own counselling program. One option was to hire someone from outside with counselling experience, however, I noticed that there were already a few teachers who had taken on the task of counselling the kids of their own volition. I met up with one of them, Devina Nigam (who teaches science to senior students) and asked her about what she had been doing with the students – and more importantly, why she was doing it. Devina explained how counselling was something that she had always done unofficially at school, and was even a practice that she had done while she was a student herself. In her words, “People have always come to me for help and advice, and I get a lot of pleasure out of assisting them.”
Counselling was a far cry from her formal responsibility as a biology instructor, and an administrator with an untrained eye just might have missed this incredible opportunity. In order to confirm my suspicion, I got hold of Devina’s Multiple Natures report (all teachers at Jiva do the MN Test!), and to my delight, confirmed what I already knew: the results showed that she had a nature ideal for counselling. Her strong Multiple Intelligences are Interpersonal and Intrapersonal, while her strong Multiple Natures are Educative and Healing.
To practice what I had been preaching, I followed my own advice of trying to get people into roles that match their natures best. While I did not turn Devina into a full-time counsellor, I reduced some of her responsibilities, freeing up time to enable her to add career counselling to her portfolio. It ended up being a fantastic idea. I immediately saw Devina take active interest in her extra time, where she put together an entire year-long career counselling program in less than a week. There was little need for me to push or chase after her – her passion took over and she worked with a sense of purpose and with tremendous enthusiasm.
This concept of assigning roles and responsibilities to teachers is something that we have been practicing regularly at Jiva. For instance, those teachers strong in Naturalistic Intelligence are provided opportunities to develop our school garden; the teachers who exhibit a strong Providing Nature take part in our hospitality activities such as making sure the canteen service is up to the mark; those that demonstrate prodigious Protective and Adventurous Natures are assigned to our Disaster Management team, and so on. The result of this practice has seen a sea change in the attitude of teachers at Jiva, fostering a renewed sense of commitment and engagement in our school community.
In the case of counsellors, I think this practice has special value: schools can begin counselling immediately, utilizing the faculty they already have. However, I am not suggesting that there is no need to hire counsellors; each school would need to make that choice for itself. But practical realities are there. Sometimes, there is no budget for a counsellor. Other times it takes a while to find someone who will work out (keep in mind, not all people who are trained as counsellors actually have natures of counselors!). Nonetheless, by identifying the natures of its existing teachers, schools can tap the potential of their existing human resources and begin guiding children right away – with a teacher who was born to be a counsellor.
The author is an American educator, TV personality, public speaker and bestselling author based in India. He can be reached at [email protected].