Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Things I Want My Future Principal to Read: What To Tell Your Twelve-Year-Old

(This is part two in a possible series. See this post for an explanation of the future principal part of the title of this post.)

I found these two recent articles from the Economic Revolution column in The Denver Post pretty interesting. They're written by Dave Maney who, in his own words, attempts to "connect the dots to our economic future." This sums up the thrust of the two articles:
The prescription for the last few generations has been: Work hard in school, get into a good college, pick a career field with lots of demand, and success will follow. I'm pretty sure that's what my parents told me, and it served me well. But I'm afraid it's largely misguided advice now.
While I don't believe that education is solely about preparing you for future employment, I do believe that's part of our mission. I also believe that many of the current batch of reforms are being made in the name of economic success and competitiveness, yet they seem to fly in the face of what I see happening. (Which, of course, is probably why these two articles caught my eye, since I agree with much of what he says. It's always dangerous to read too much into something that confirms your own bias, but here goes.)

I particularly like how he attempts to state his "ten big ideas," but then also tries to frame them in terms of how he would begin a conversation with a twelve-year-old. For example, one of his points is:
In this tumultuous time, I wouldn't trust anyone's traditional prescriptions for success. (Nor mine for that matter.) It's incumbent on everyone to think for themselves, to observe, to interpret, to plan and to course-correct.
 And he frames it for a twelve-year-old as
Starting point for your 12-year-old: "School's important, but being able to think for yourself is more important. We should talk about how people learn to do that."
Perhaps these articles could be part of the basis for a good discussion led by our new principal about our current assumptions about what our students are going to need to be successful in the workforce. As a bonus article, we could add in The Career Of The Future Doesn't Include A 20-Year Plan. It's More Like Four:
The particulars of Hasler's young career can appear exotic and, yes, flighty. But his essential experience--tacking swiftly from job to job and field to field, learning new skills all the while--resembles the pattern that increasingly defines our careers. According to recent statistics, the median number of years a U.S. worker has been in his or her current job is just 4.4, down sharply since the 1970s. This decline in average job tenure is bigger than any economic cycle, bigger than any particular industry, bigger than differences in education levels, and bigger than differences in gender. (Since women are more likely to interrupt their careers for child rearing and caregiving, their average time in a job is even shorter than a man's.)
Hmm, reminds me a bit of this.

1 comment:

  1. The changed recipe for success makes my job (essentially a college counselor) more difficult as well as more fun. Difficult because there is no end-all, be-all prescriptive, which parents often want. Being a parent of 2 undergrads - one with 2 or 3 jobs and the other in a holding pattern, picking up bits and pieces of paid work and volunteer work- I understand, in many ways, wanting a guarantee for your child's success. The fun part? And this is certainly the main reason I love my job - discussing the options young people have when they are equipped with an education that teaches them to be critical thinkers. In my opinion, it creates more options for them, opening up their career options rather than narrowing them.