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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

NEED A JOB? Invent it!


Need to find a job? Invent it
By Thomas Friedman
Published in the bend Bulletin: April 02. 2013 4:00AM PST

When Tony Wagner, the Harvard education specialist, describes his job today, he says he’s “a translator between two hostile tribes" — the education world and the business world, the people who teach our kids and the people who give them jobs. Wagner’s argument in his book “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World" is that our K-12 and college tracks are not consistently “adding the value and teaching the skills that matter most in the marketplace."
This is dangerous at a time when there is increasingly no such thing as a high-wage, middle-skilled job — the thing that sustained the middle class in the past generation. Now there is only a high-wage, high-skilled job. Every middle-class job today either requires more skill or can be done by more people around the world or is made obsolete faster than ever. Which is why the goal of education, argues Wagner, should not be to make every child “college ready" but “innovation ready" — ready to add value to whatever they do.
That is a tall task. I tracked Wagner down and asked him to elaborate. “Today," he said via email, “because knowledge is available on every Internet-connected device, what you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know. The capacity to innovate and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge. As one executive told me, ‘We can teach new hires the content, and we will have to because it continues to change, but we can’t teach them how to think — to ask the right questions — and to take initiative.’"
My generation had it easy. We got to “find" a job. But, more than ever, our kids will have to “invent" a job. (Fortunately, in today’s world, that’s easier and cheaper than ever before.) Sure, some will find their first job, but, given the pace of change today, they will have to reinvent, re-engineer and reimagine that job much more often than their parents if they want to advance in it.
“Every young person will continue to need basic knowledge, of course," Wagner said. “But they will need skills and motivation even more. Of these three education goals, motivation is the most critical. Young people who are intrinsically motivated — curious, persistent and willing to take risks — will learn new knowledge and skills continuously. They will be able to find new opportunities or create their own — a disposition that will be increasingly important as many traditional careers disappear."
So what should be the focus of education reform today?
“We teach and test things most students have no interest in and will never need, and facts that they can Google and will forget as soon as the test is over," said Wagner. “Because of this, the longer kids are in school, the less motivated they become. Gallup’s recent survey showed student engagement going from 80 percent in fifth grade to 40 percent in high school. More than a century ago, we ‘reinvented’ the one-room schoolhouse and created factory schools for the industrial economy. Reimagining schools for the 21st century must be our highest priority. We need to focus more on teaching the skill and will to learn and to make a difference and bring the three most powerful ingredients of intrinsic motivation into the classroom: play, passion and purpose."
What does that mean for teachers and principals?
“Teachers," he said, “need to coach students to performance excellence, and principals must be instructional leaders who create the culture of collaboration required to innovate. But what gets tested is what gets taught, and so we need ‘Accountability 2.0.’ All students should have digital portfolios to show evidence of mastery of skills like critical thinking and communication, which they build up right through K-12 and postsecondary. Selective use of high-quality tests, like the College and Work Readiness Assessment, is important. Finally, teachers should be judged on evidence of improvement in students’ work through the year — instead of a score on a bubble test in May. We need lab schools where students earn a high school diploma by completing a series of skill-based ‘merit badges’ in things like entrepreneurship. And schools of education where all new teachers have ‘residencies’ with master teachers and performance standards — not content standards — must become the new normal throughout the system."
Who is doing it right?
“Finland is one of the most innovative economies in the world," he said, “and it is the only country where students leave high school ‘innovation-ready.’ They learn concepts and creativity more than facts, and have a choice of many electives — all with a shorter school day, little homework and almost no testing. In the U.S., 500 K-12 schools affiliated with Hewlett Foundation’s Deeper Learning Initiative and a consortium of 100 school districts called EdLeader21 are developing new approaches to teaching 21st-century skills. There are also a growing number of ‘reinvented’ colleges like the Olin College of Engineering, the MIT Media Lab and the ‘D-school’ at Stanford where students learn to innovate."
— Thomas Friedman is a columnist for The New York Times  


2 comments:

Connie Firestone said...

What is your view on common core?

WALT WAGNER said...

Connie,
Your question regarding my view on common core is painted with a broad brush; Common core is complex. I would not be able to answer your question in a sentence or two.

I had given Common Core state standards the benefit of the doubt. Teachers become teachers, in my opinion, to lead, to inspire, to motivate, and to prepare kids for life.

As dissatisfaction with the U.S. public school system grows, apparently so has the appeal of homeschooling. Educational researchers, in fact, are expecting a surge in the number of students educated at home by their parents over the next ten years, as more parents reject public schools.

The sad part is that the parents of those children in poverty tend to not have acquired an education that would lead to a good home schooling environment, which at times seems like a catch 22, as these are the same children who in my opinion will and are having trouble meeting the standards of common core. Poverty always seems to take its toll. It's where I started, and great lessons were learned when I left the mindset and conditions of poverty behind.

A little digging reveals a very ugly, very bleak attempt to pigeonhole our children and limit their potentials just to advance profits and rank students for some planned, future idea of a workforce. Innovation, creativity, and good paying jobs will be reserved for the top (most affluent) student; long hours, low pay, and menial work will be prescribed for the bottom (poorest) students. And it now appears it will be based on how they perform on state standardized tests, which are designed to be very closely matched to--you guessed it - the Common Core State Standards.

Some of the comments coming from other states and the national scene are:
-Teaching to the test
-Cuts down on science
-Less electives for students (30 min per wk)?
-Washington collecting data on students. I haven't observed this - Yet--
-Common Core fails against international Standards. Instead of reforming the education system to give parents and student more of a choice in schooling, Common Core does the exact opposite. A "one size fits all" is being imposed.

America used to be known as the country where the best and the brightest were raised. With Common Core, we are settling for mediocrity. Our education system in the past put men on the moon.

Those in poverty, in my opinion, will fall farther behind with Common Core in place. The teachers we have set the gold standard but they will be able to only have so much control over their teaching style.

Also, the creating of innovators will take its toll, again in my opinion, under common core standards. This will remove some creative instruction that teachers have used in the past to create tomorrow's college bound students.

I am still doing interviews and research regarding Common Core State Standards. For me the Jury is still out. I have my doubts regarding Its survival.

My question is how much money will be spent and how many teachers and students will be affected negatively if it is scrapped like other states have currently done?