Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For. How Are We Doing?

I recently read an article in Forbes magazine written by Susan Adams titled:  

The 10 Skills Employers Most Want in 2015 Graduates

I was not at all surprised by the list.  In fact, it seems quite obvious that these would be the desired skills.  So, how do students prepare for working in the "real world"?  School?  I believe that preparing students for careers later in life is one of the purposes of education.  

Point of this Post:
Considering this, I just wanted to "GRADE" how I think school is doing at helping our next generation attain these skills.  The following post is MY PERSONAL OPINION on how schools are doing at preparing students for these skills.  This analysis has nothing to do with Forbes.

*** This "giving a grade" is ironic, however, since I do believe that "grades" are destroying learning in our schools. 

1. Ability to work in a team structure  GRADE: D- 
This actually seems to be the opposite of school, where we are obsessed with holding everyone accountable and constantly trying to rank their individual ability to memorize information. Students are in rows of desks.  Students are told to keep their eyes on their own papers, tests, quizzes. I would have given this an "F" 5 years ago, but some progress is being made.  I must mention, however, that just because you assign a group of students to work together and they get along.... that does not mean they are COLLABORATING.  That means they are behaving.

2. Ability to Make Decision and Solve Problems  GRADE: F
Ha!  This one is funny.  The real world and school have completely different definitions of the word "Problems".  The real world means that situations will arise in which we may not know the best solution, but through critical thinking, we can find a good solution.  We must then have the ability to make that decision.  In school, a problem is a question created by the "sage on the stage" such as "3x + 18 = 33  solve for X" or "What are the stages of mitosis".  Sorry school, this is not what the real world is talking about.  We continue to convince students there is ONE correct answer to everything, and it is at the back of the book.  Wake up.

3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside of the organization. GRADE: F
Oh my!  School does not deserve an "F" on this one.  Maybe an "I" for incomplete as I am not sure they have began to address this.  Claiming that you have students stand in front of the class and give a crappy Power Point without any guidance on how to "speak" does not count as verbal communication.  Speaking only to classmates does not count, either.  If you have not read Erik Palmer's wonderful book titled: Teaching the Core Skills of Listening & Speaking.... I highly recommend it.

4. Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work.  GRADE: D
I have seen some teachers teach these skills.  For most teachers, however, this means "PLAN" to do homework every night, "Organize" it by writing it in your binder and putting it in the folder we made you purchase, and Priority?  Get it done by tomorrow, no excuses, or you will lose points.  Ha!

5. Ability to obtain and process information  GRADE:D
If by obtain, you mean get it from the "sage on the stage" who is handing it to you, school is doing okay.  If by process you mean.... "MEMORIZE IT FOR THE TEST".... then school is doing okay.  I don't think this is what the real world is talking about, though.  Maybe 40 years ago, but not anymore.

6. Ability to analyze quantitative data GRADE: F
Education is really ignorant on this.  Part of the blame is on a curriculum which culminates with Calculus instead of Probability and Statistics, but the other part goes on the schools itself.  One sign they are ignorant on this, is when they have a large group of teachers "ANALYZE DATA" at professional development meetings.  Most of these educators have no right analyzing data for such high stakes purposes.  Remember the housing market crash?  Our current financial condition, along with the fact that most students couldn't make change at a store more less make financial decisions, is concerning.

7. Technical Knowledge Related to the Job  GRADE: F*
I put an asterisk next to this grade because if you have a student who will become a historian (whatever that means), a photosynthesis or mitosis worker (whatever that means), or a fiction author, maybe they are learning this knowledge.  My biggest wake up call on this, is when we partnered with 150+ business partners in our project based program and we asked them what "content knowledge" was most important to learn.  The most common answer was a chuckle and a claim that "Once you get to our job we will teach you what you need to do on the job".  In others words.... the technical knowledge we are learning in school isn't even relevant technical knowledge.  Sad.

8. Proficiency with computer software programs. GRADE: F-
This is a joke.  Most schools will hide behind "costs" and "infrastructure" as an excuse, but it is usually because of ignorance, an inability for 75% of teachers to understand technology, and a fear of knowing less about something than students in the class that contribute to this.  Although almost every business and organization I talked to mentioned that students "better know a lot about technology", the High School I taught at requires ZERO credits of technology.  Brilliant concept!  The biggest misconception is that teachers believe students are already "great with technology".  If you are talking about selfies, tweets, texts, and video games, you may be correct... but that isn't what the real world is talking about.

9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports GRADE: D-
Schools are trying to improve at this, but they are not doing well.  Students suck at writing.  The schools are up against the texting & tweeting style of communication that students use in their daily lives, but without a clear rubric, most students have no clue how to write.

10. Ability to sell & influence others GRADE: F
I don't think that school has ever considered teaching influence, charisma, integrity, or the ability to sell a concept.  Instead students learn to shut up and do what they are told.  Schools really strike out at this one.


If you really care about students, will you please stop settling for the status quo?  Will you please speak up?  Will you please do something about this?  If you don't, who will?

Be prepared.  In about 10 years we are going to have millions of ANGRY 20-something year old people, who despise schools for failing to prepare them for the real world.


Oliver Schinkten:
Founder of:  AssistEd Shift
About Me:
Advocate for students
Hater of the status quo
Fighting for the Education Revolution

Please connect!

Monday, February 23, 2015

There is a student......

Are you helping your students?

There is a student in your classroom that will be a wonderful parent.  Actually many of them.

There is a student in your classroom that will be a wonderful spouse.  Actually many of them.

There is a student in your classroom who will be a wonderful friend to someone who desperately needs them.  Actually many of them.

There is a student in your classroom that will go through some REALLY tough times.

There is a student in your classroom who will seriously consider suicide, as approximately 5% of teenagers in the United States do at some point.

There is a student in your classroom who is brilliantly creative, although they do not do well at the game of school.


What are you doing to help foster an environment in which we have more wonderful parents, spouses, and friends.  What are you doing to help your students be prepared to deal with REALLY tough times more effectively, and hopefully never consider something as terrible as suicide.  What are you doing to help make sure that the creative geniuses in your class, who the school has continuously made them feel below average, know that they are geniuses and can use those strengths to change the world.

It isn't teaching them the stages of photosynthesis or mitosis.
It isn't teaching them about the War of 1812.
It isn't teaching them about the Pythagorean Theorem.
It isn't having them read another novel from the 1940's (which they don't read anyway).
It isn't the worksheets you assign.
It isn't the standardized tests you administer.

What is it?  Is it enough?

Please check out the ComPassion Based Learning Blog

Oliver Schinkten:
Founder of:  AssistEd Shift
About Me:
Advocate for students
Hater of the status quo
Fighting for the Education Revolution

Please connect!