On Tuesday I taught workshops for The Excelsior Academy’s TEA Time program. TEA is the largest homeschool network covering Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. I served as their commencement speaker three years ago and have presented for them annually on college and career advising topics. For this year’s workshop I built an interactive presentation called “From Temperament to Employment” that used Temperament Theory to help students discover which working environments might be the best for them. At the same time, the workshop was designed to help both students and their families understand how learning styles, motivation, and skills are influenced by temperament, and how understanding temperament differences can help you better understand your boss, your coworkers, and your family members.
As I have blogged before, Temperament Theory is one of my favorite career development tools because it is relatively simple and easy to use. By answering just two questions – How do I use language? (concretely or abstractly) and; “How do I use tools?” (cooperatively or in a utilitarian fashion) – we can divide people into four general temperament types. These temperaments are the predispositions or preferences we are born with and that shape the way we see the world. (See my earlier blogs on temperament I and II).
This was my first time offering this workshop and it was so much fun! I moved the group around the room, helping them to assess their own temperaments, play a temperament board game, and build a Fortune 500 company of their temperament roles. I also was fascinated by the results of what we found. In a typical population nationally, we would expect about 40 percent of the population to be Guardians (the traditionalist cooperative group), about another 35 percent or so Artisans (movers and shakers and rule benders), with only 15 percent Idealists (let’s all help each other grow), and 10 percent Rationals (intellectual/analytical/mastermind personality). In this group, however, the representation was very skewed. Probably 40 percent (the largest group) ended up in the Rationals category. This prompted a lot of good discussion about whether this temperament type is a particularly good match for homeschooling.
This was an interesting thought to me. Using temperament theory, one would expect Rationals to feel somewhat out of place in a traditional classroom. To begin with, being 10 percent or less of the population, there might be only one or two of them in any classroom. On top of this, Rationals tend to find the academic part of school relatively easy, and they seek to finish it as rapidly as possible and with the least amount of wasted time. With their intense, often discriminating personality and high standards for others, they are likely to find a traditional school room annoying, wasteful, and not the best use of their time. This can make for a rocky experience unless they are challenged and given freedom to pursue mastery of subjects that interest them. It wouldn’t surprise me, therefore, if these students and their parents often looked for other options. This was an unexpected learning moment! For an interesting set of questions to help you guess your temperament, try this worksheet.
I was so happy and blessed to be able to share this material. I had a number of students and parents that said that the temperament concept was going to help them both in discovering a career fit and in improving their relationships with each other. I’ll be looking forward to sharing this workshop with new audiences.
My new book, What’s Your Function? also delves into Temperament Theory, particularly as it relates to the way that we all grow and mature, and how our personalities change over time. If you find that you’ve hit a midlife crisis, or that you just don’t look at the world the way you used to, maybe understanding temperament can help. Check it out at What’s Your Function?