Sunday, May 19, 2013

Are We Preparing Our Students for their Future?

How often do your students work in teams to solve a problem?  A representative from IBM says that this skill is more important than anything else we teach.  Are you preparing your students for their future jobs?At the ECIS Conference, I had the opportunity to see a great variety of speakers.  One of the most unique speakers was Cailean Hargrave, a representative from IBM.  Cailean gave a great keynote speech, which you can find below, but he also participated in a panel discussing curriculum and what we should be teaching students.  At both of these events, he stressed the fact that he was on the other end of a child’s life than us educators.  As educators, we take students and prepare them for their future.  He takes those students coming out of college and gives them a job to begin their adult lives.  One of the things that he said was that more than half of the applicants who come to him are unprepared for the jobs they are applying for.  He also said that the technologies that he sees being taught in high schools and even universities  are ones that will not be helpful to students as they apply for a job, because most of those technologies have been outsourced years ago.  Cailean also said that the most important thing we can teach our students is how to work collaboratively, how to be a leader, and how to be an independent, self starting worker.  He said that these skills are more important than almost any thing else we teach, and will allow our students to get and keep jobs much better than getting a 4.0. 

In this age of standardized testing, one of the leading technology companies says that thinking and collaborating is more important than memorizing facts that can be regurgitated onto a test.  I know that there is a ton of pres sure to teach to the test right now.  Two years ago, I was in the US teaching in that system, and I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to be teaching in a school without high stakes testing.  At the International School of Morocco, I am able to teach skills like communicating, problem solving and collaboration with out the stress of whether my kids will be able to UNRAVEL test questions.  However, every child deserves to learn those skills important to getting a good job, so how do we get the politicians to wake up and realize that thinking and collaborating is more important than bubbling in the right answer?  I’m not sure how to do that, but what I took away from Cailean’s speech was that we need to be preparing our students for their REAL future.  In  that future, they will need to work in a team to solve problems.  How are you working in your classroom to build learners and thinkers who are ready for this type of a job?Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources