After watching the video in this post about changing education paradigms I decided I wanted to do more than just gripe about how awful our education system has become. (And that includes the system itself, the majority of the teachers/professors, and a large percentage of the students as well. Everyone is at fault.)
Thinking about all the ways my education failed me, I asked a group of some intelligent peers what they wish they would’ve learned in school. Here are their responses:
Tom O’Keefe: How to be successful in the corporate world. Shaking hands (firmly), how to act and dress in an office, and other soft skills.
Sara Davidson: Communication and relationship-building skills, like how to work with difficult people, networking, how to persuade people, present your ideas in a more formal setting, etc.
- Personal finance/investments
- Current events (National and International)
- Home and car care (absolute requirement)
- Societal stereotypes and prejudice (to discuss racism, sexual discrimination issues, etc.)
And nowadays, I think they should teach a class solely focused on the web/social media – education on potential uses, ethical behavior, online privacy
Scott Hale: Would it be more worthwhile to focus on teaching “life skills” instead professional skills throughout the education system?
I wouldn’t say my education did much in the way of preparing me for the actual professional world (is it even possible to set expectations and perceptions accurately?), but skills like public speaking, relationship-building, professional norms, personal finance, etc. seem to be universal.
My Thoughts: In most high schools aside from basic Business Computer Information Systems technology classes are an elective. So is physical education. I think both of those are significantly more important classes for the AVERAGE student than Algebra II or Chemistry.
Jason Mollica: As for now, I think we need to teach good speaking skills. I can’t tell you how badly some folks speak. I’d also add better usage of technology
Rich Pulvino: I think public speaking should be mandatory
Evan Roberts: Photography. Kids should be given digital cameras early. Our textile world is becoming a lot more visual and symbolic, and it’s important for future generations to be able to communicate as effectively with pictures and they can with words.
Chris Stearns: Definitely agree with what’s been said so far. Would also like to see certain topics more integrated into current curriculum. For example, I know spreadsheets are a large part of my job (and others’ as well) but I never once opened a spreadsheet as a Communications major.
Patrick Johnson: To think on my own without only worrying about the final product. Wish they would’ve taught us how to realllly be creative.
David Spinks asked Patrick if he thought creativity was something you could teach…
My Thoughts: Maybe to an extent. I think you CAN alter the system itself such that educators entice more divergent thinking (something most young kids have), rather than promote the notion that there’s only ONE answer and that being good at test taking is the same as being smart/being prepared for the “real world.”
David Spinks: I wish I heard the word entrepreneur at least once. I wish they showed us the option to pave our own path instead of just filing us into our spots in corporations. I wish I had the opportunity to gain some real experience.
Ryan Knapp: Critical Thinking. Hands down the one skill that is sucked out of everyone while in school. Let’s face it, we really don’t need classes, but we need a way that encourages people to pursue their interests while providing them with a solid academic foundation.
Ryan Knapp Thought: Also debate and conflict resolution are high on my list along with challenging students with projects which allow them to actually figure out how they work best (i.e. in a group, by themselves, are they a leader, are they a follower, do they work best at night, in the day, what sort of focus do they have) Half an internship is learning about yourself and not the job you are doing, but we could make that so much easier by letting people explore who they are earlier.
Chris Stearns Thought: I also honestly believe that in many subjects (especially COM and BUS), text books are becoming/have become unnecessary. They’re incredibly expensive, aren’t used half the time and with things constantly changing and being brought online, I feel they’re becoming less relevant. Yes they still serve a purpose in many areas and are great as foundational tools, but there are better and more interactive ways in today’s society.
Ryan Knapp Thought: With that being said, we also need a focus on trades and other blue collar jobs. While we all want to be rock stars, not everyone is. My father was a C or D student at best, but could take a part a car and put it back together without any problem. He went to BOCES and learned how to be a mechanic and loved his job. We will always need people to fix cars, to install hardwood floor and provide good services, and we should support them with the same type of education that we support the person who invents the next great technological piece of equipment.
Tim Jahn Thought: Overall, I don’t feel that skills are missing from the educational system. Rather, it’s the mindset the system wants students to take. Listen to teacher, do what she says, don’t question, rinse, repeat. Creativity and individual thinking are discouraged. Even when they are encouraged, they’re destroyed by the reliance on standardized testing.
I have some thoughts, but I’d rather hear yours. What themes do you see emerging? This is something I’m passionate about and am excited to explore further. What avenues should I be pursuing? What do you wish you would’ve learned in school? What are your thoughts regarding our current education system?
I’m collating all your responses and input and using them as ammunition to help create positive change. Your opinion matters to me.