Michele at the Bamboo Project got my interest with a post about: How School Screws Things Up for Real Life. My take on her main point:
(S)chool does a really terrible job of preparing our young people for “the real world” by setting up some seriously unrealistic expectations.
Let’s summarize this way: people expect school to prepare them for their work life, but fail because the social structures and expectations, “the rules of the road if you will”, are completely different. It’s reasonable that this “hidden curriculum” is important, but I think that there is even more involved. It’s something that goes to the very purpose of schooling and I’ll begin with this list:
- Skills are more important than Content. Schools put too much emphasis on content recall instead of things like analysis. Most students do need an understanding and recall of some content, but skills are more important, especially skills like analysis. Many specifics that Michele lists can become issues because novices often take their world at face value (i.e., their first impression). Analysis prepares us to look deeper and begins with problem framing, exploring different way of looking at a problem in order to find an acceptable way to communicate and to guides one’s actions. This is the essence of maturity and something important to workers and employers and it leads me to a 2nd point.
- In early life, Maturation is more important than Knowledge. Our lifetime is generally divided into 3 periods. Schooling, working, and retirement. Because schooling is first, it’s natural to assume that what is happening at this time is maturation. Instead of trying to cram everything they will need to know into one’s first 22 years, an impossible task to begin with, strive instead for helping students reach maturity in their capabilities; to be their best possible self. The ability to act with whatever capabilities one excels, along with promoting emotional, physical, and personal wholeness, is much more important than what content one knows. This is how we should be measuring students.
- Graduates don’t need certificates; they need resources. It make no sense to think that one’s learning needs end with graduation at age 22 or there abouts. John Hagel has suggested that knowledge today is found in flows, and if we want to be successful, we need access to these knowledge flows. It also makes no sense that one’s developmental influences (their school) should not be a participant in this flow. Students should graduate with more than a certificate, they should also have an active personal learning network. I can think of no better transition process than to build a learning network in school that can be carried into later life. Imagine if an employer was not only hiring a school’s “product”, but also an entire knowledge network resource. It is the essence of this 2.0 networked world that artificial boundaries to accessing resources are being eliminated. Let’s make schools part of this boundary breaking
This is not an exhaustive list. What other ways of educational reform could help us function better or healthier in life? What should schools look like; what should be their purpose?