From the first moment I heard the catchphrase “career and college ready”, it bothered me, though I couldn’t easily put my finger on why. The notion that school is a place to prepare students for life beyond school is certainly not revolutionary.
We teach children how to add and subtract so that one day they can work a cash register or balance their checkbooks. We teach children how to read so that they can fill out applications and follow written instructions or directions. We teach children about the world around them so that they can understand how things work and why people act the way that they do.
The now of education is inextricable from the later. Right?
Well, consider this quote:
“Education is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.” -John Dewey
Perhaps, in focusing so much on preparing them for later, education has missed the boat in capitalizing on the now of the process of learning. Setting benchmarks and piling on assessments to make certain that children are on a track that will guarantee success might actually be derailing students from ever reaching that success.
If we teach children to enjoy learning, the process of it (the reading, the computing, the exploring, the writing, the thinking, the creating, the debating) they will learn more than if we teach children to be focused on the measurable results of learning. If we excite children about the act of learning, the pursuit of knowledge will become a self-propelled race rather than a proscribed march through pre-determined checkpoints.
Ask a college professor or an employer, what makes a great student or employee.
I am certain that they will not answer with a list of skills and knowledge, but rather a type of character.
Successful people excel in careers and college because they can think, they like to think, and they have within them the desire and fire to achieve.