Jeff Utecht commented on yesterday’s blog with some statements that I would like to continue the discussion with. Jeff said,
(ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s) great that you get too meet with real corporate people and talk about the skills they need and are using on a daily basis. I wish more teachers had the opportunity to sit and talk with a group like that and listen to them talk about the skills they use in the work place, then maybe education would really embrace technology and problem solving skills.
Putting teachers out into the corporate world to become aware of what students need to be learning, although rare, is not unheard off. My son’s high school has a wonderful program that places students into local work environments to learn about work culture and about specific jobs. This job shadowing for students is common. However, in a conversation a few years ago with an educator in New Zealand, I learned that the practice is as common over there, except that it is teachers who do the shadowing. After the experience, they meet, identify the success skills that they witnessed, and then alter their curriculum for the coming year to address those skills.
I recently worked with a school system in Upstate New York who was not satisfied with the states competencies in terms of adequately preparing their children for the current and future work place. So they sent their teachers into the local workplaces for a variety of job shadowing experiences. The educators then met, identified success skills, and enhanced their curriculum by wrapping the skills that the identified around the state’s mandated/tested skills. I was deeply impressed with their foresight.
To be fair, after our second day at Duke CE, I learned that even at the corporate level, project-based education is not always an easy sell. Our image of education remains hardened by years of classrooms designed to prepare people for a workplace characterized by working in a straight row, performing repetitive tasks, under close supervision. Even though the workplace has certainly changed, our image of teaching and learning hasn’t.
How do we tell a new story about education that will compel people to reject the old image in place of a new and more relevant one? This is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.