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 Response Page - Hendershot & Field  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the 
Peg Hendershot / Kevin Field  Interview of


Peg Hendershot and Kevin Field of CareerVision describe the significance of helping individuals, young people in particular, to recognize and develop their innate aptitudes. Many people do not have a clear self-perception, leading to misspent time in unsuccessful endeavors and unfulfilled potential. The speakers discuss strategies to help people identify those areas in which they have both strengths and interests. They discuss their work in schools and suggest possible policy implications.

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary:  Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Hendershot and Field. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Perception limited. (8.2 average response) Too many young people are lacking a clear sense of where their strengths and abilities lay.

2. Awareness key. (8.2 average response) It is as important for a young person to know what talents he or she has as to know what job or profession they aspire to.

3. Testing essential. (6.7 average response) Education policy should prioritize aptitude testing as a form of development.

4. Motivation improved. (6.9 average response) Correctly identifying one’s aptitude will be likely to increase their motivation.


Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Perception limited.







2. Awareness key.







3. Testing essential.







4. Motivation improved.







Individual Responses:

R. C. Angevine  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)

Bruce A. Lundeen  (2.5)  (0)  (0)  (2.5)

1. Perception limited. I believe strengths and abilities are quite identical to ambition and motivation.

2. Awareness key. Life is hard; success is difficult; the world is full of underachievers.

3. Testing essential. Aptitude testing is not a substitute for poor upbringing, a lack of role models, or poverty.

4. Motivation improved. The DFL tends to pretend that they represent the weaker classes of humanity, and that everyone is entitled to higher education.  But only few will succeed in college.  Identifying one's aptitudes may become a pigeonhole operation with the effect of robbing the ambitious of any chance at all.

Debby Frenzel  (10)  (7.5)  (5)  (2.5)

Dennis L. Johnson  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (5)

4. Motivation improved. General comments relating to all questions:  Aptitude testing is okay as far as it goes, but there are many pitfalls in relying too heavily on this approach.  The results will only be as good as the tests that are used. Many of the persons tested will tend to answer questions in the way that the values systems of their parents, peers, and teachers expect of them, thus greatly warping the results. I have always counseled young people, my own children, grandchildren, etc. that no one knows your own talents and interests as well as you yourselves do, so listen respectfully to all advice from all quarters, but in the end, it is your life, and you must follow your own star as you see it. Would an aptitude test given to Mozart, or Frank Lloyd Wright, or Shakespeare, or even Bobby Dylan, have steered them into the best career?  Beware also of the European model, where testing at about the 10th grade level switches young people to either a college track or a tradesman track, with little chance to change after that point.    Young people must be free to follow their own star, and learn the consequences of their choices. Aptitude testing can help the uncertain, but can also constrain those dedicated to their calling. It should never become a determinant as part of an educational policy or concept, but only an advisory.    If I had listened to the advice of my family, I would never have become an architect. Fortunately, I ignored their advice and followed my own inclinations, which I have never regretted.

Peter Hennessey  (7.5)  (5)  (5)  (5)

1. Perception limited. And this is an ageless problem. School grades and standardized test scores are not a very good indicator, but the kids don't have much else to go on.

2. Awareness key. Yes, but anything like this assumes some kind of stability in the workforce. Career counselors have done a poor job in identifying occupations, trades and professions that are always needed, and failed to forecast most of the others that have not even existed a few years, let alone a generation ago.

3. Testing essential. Yes, but it is not education "policy" that should emphasize aptitude testing, it is education PRACTICE, formally by various forms of testing and counseling and informally by discussions with teachers and visiting professionals that must do this job throughout the school years.   Aptitude testing and counseling, as well as the professional development programs, must face up to two problems. One problem is that technology moves too fast. The other problem is that professionals often question the relevance of some aspects of their education to the practice of their profession, and often decry shortcomings in their preparation that should have been easy to foresee and correct.

4. Motivation improved. These are two rather poorly correlated factors. You can't lose sight of the fact that motivation is subject to many momentary and permanent external influences, such as family and cultural traditions, peer pressure, perceived fads and trends, shifting personal preferences, etc. Even in the absence of external influences, we might enter a profession that may be very attractive for a while but eventually will run its course. Or you might not like doing what you find yourself being good at. Then what?  As human beings we have great potential for all sorts of things, especially at a young age. We tell the kids, you can be anything you want to be; and it's true, except that we never give them guidance, let alone a guarantee, that if you take this course or get that degree, you will have a career or at least no worries about getting a job. But if the prospects are poor to begin with, will that increase or decrease one's motivation?  The danger in focusing too tightly on aptitudes and motivation at one particular age (such as school) is that one can become too highly specialized too early, and become unemployable as fads and realities change. It is far better to emphasize a solid foundation in the basics along with fostering an intellectual curiosity in related and unrelated subjects, so that one always has reasonable options and combination of skills to meet shifting requirements. The only thing that is permanent is change. That is what all the testing, development and career guidance must emphasize.

John Sievert  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)

Don Anderson  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (5)

2. Awareness key. Not every young person has the talents for a college trained profession yet this is the way the system is based today; unless the person shows talent in sports, and then the over-emphasis starts.

Will Shapira  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

1. Perception limited. They are not aware of how important it is to learn this. They are distracted by social media, video games, sports and other meaningless "activities." Their parents often are no better.

2. Awareness key. See above.

3. Testing essential. Society demands young people prepare for careers and adult life earlier than ever.

4. Motivation improved. It should in most cases encourage a student to pay attention to what's really important as they grow up.

W. D. (Bill) Hamm  (10)  (10)  (0)  (7.5)

1. Perception limited. While this statement is true, it is less clear that this effort is student based. Anyone who refers to students as "human resource material" or "human capital" is not looking at the "student first". This terminology clearly reduces us from individuals to a product being harvested for industrial use. It also speaks of top-down control for the sake of system and business, not about what is best for individuals.

2. Awareness key. Again, a very inspirational statement but again being pushed from a top-down "School to Work" perspective, not an individual need perspective.

3. Testing essential. Education policy decision-making needs to come back to the local level. We need to get the…government…out of education as its present failure is clearly tied to said involvement.

4. Motivation improved. While the statement is clearly pie in the sky, the real measure here is if the system is about "system goals" or is it about promoting the individual needs and goals. I am not at all clear that this program is in any way about the individuals needs over system needs. (There is) too much system oriented language.

Dave Broden  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (0)

1. Perception limited. This may be the case but has it really changed or is this the way it always has been? It takes time for people to sort out a path. The key is to provide the education that enables an individual to sort out the complex alternatives and to understand the options. Moving to regiment and fully define an individual’s capabilities is one more step to putting someone in a place and leaving no flexibility by the person or those who define what this person is to do.

2. Awareness key. Knowing the talents may be one thing but forcing or categorizing people and telling them that they should lock into a slot is not reasonable.

3. Testing essential. There is a need (in) education not do more testing. Focus on testing does not educate and spends way too much money on (a) non-productive activity.

4. Motivation improved. Once again "Big Brother" is going to tell people how to act and what they should do. I do not see this as a motivator. This is just one more scheme to add regimentation to people in a complex world that needs flexibility. Read David Brooks article on 31 May NYT to see how this generation is too well structured to move into society and now with the aptitude plans we add more. Nonsense.

Wayne Jennings  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Excellent ideas with great potential. They have to be integrated into a transformed education system rather than tacked on.

Chuck Lutz  (8)  (8)  (8)  (7)

Rick Bishop  (8)  (10)  (8)  (9)

Robert J. Brown  (10)  (10)  (5)  (8)

Alan Miller  (8)  (9)  (8)  (8)

Ralph Brauer  (8)  (10)  (8)  (9)

One of the best and most perceptive so far. Their support (of) personalized learning and the need to get away from standardization is right on track.  They also point out the tools to do this are here now. This is not some utopian dream. 

John Adams  (5)  (8)  (8)  (6)

I heard the MPR program featuring these authors and was not highly impressed with their performance although their main arguments seem solid.  They dodged questions seeking distinctions and relationships between "career aptitudes" and "career interests" and how they can be in conflict with one another.  The prevailing cultural environments that shape job/career interests of young people also serve at times to deter them from seriously considering things that they might have a genuine aptitude for.  The biases of parents and many guidance counselors often aren't much help.  For example, as I once wrote in a paper on this topic: "The U.S. has caught the 'British Disease', that is, a disdain for the doing of useful work." This kind of thinking sends too many unprepared and uninterested kids to college, only to see them drop out.  It has undermined full development of Minnesota's technical colleges ever since the 1950s.  Furthermore, there is no reason why classroom teachers of a variety of subjects who are not trained specifically as guidance counselors could not participate in thoughtful discussions with their students on both the idea of interests and of aptitudes.  If you have access to this week's CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION (3 June 2011) p. A20, you might infer from the chart that ranks earnings of college graduates by major and subject area that people graduating in psychology and social work have not always been competitive with other areas.  I'd like to see these topics discussed further.

Al Quie  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

This was fantastic. Thank you for highlighting this aspect of self-realization. I use the word "giftedness" rather than aptitude, strengths or abilities because it shows up at such an early age. A person needs help to realize, but when self awareness comes it is so motivating.

Lyall Schwarzkopf  (7)  (8)  (6)  (8)

Terry Stone  (10)  (8)  (8)  (10)

This is a great issue and an interview that provides good insight to a local, state and national problem.

Tom Spitznagle  (5)  (8)  (7)  (5)


The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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