The culmination of the Wagner Book, The Global achievement Gap comes down to the seven survival skills and what they mean to me. As a mother, I can say that if my child was taught to hone and build these skills
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving:
Critical thought is a human nature so it has to be on the survival skill. Thinking critically and not just going with the flow is absolutely essential to survival.
Agility and Adaptability:
How could I be a decent science teacher and not bring up survival of the fittest? If you cannot adapt in an environment then you will not survive. Being able to move around obstacles or figure out how to best acclimate yourself in the world is the key to longevity and success.
Initiative and Entrepreneurship:
This is less to do about adapting to your environment and more about changing the environment. This is truly a human attribute that is important for success in the world today.
Effective Oral and Written Communication:
No one can live in isolation, you have to be able to communicate in order to build relationships and progress through life. Being heard and that makes you feel life has a purpose.
Accessing and Analyzing Information:
This skill would be less about being heard and more about knowing how to gain and review other's opinions and reports. In a world with this glut of information everyone needs to be able to know how to access credible information and to be able to analyze the findings.
Curiosity and Imagination:
Curiosity is what is driving the greatest progress and inventions in the world. It was once said that everything that can be invented has been. Our students continue to challenge that statement daily and that needs to be nurtured and guided throughout education, instead of diminishing it as it has been.
What would I add? The love of learning. We need to add in this survival skill because without it we reach predetermined limits and never push ourselves to develop further and evolve, which in science we know that that is a necessity of life.
According to many sources including Fortune Magazine, Google is one of the best companies on earth to work for, so how does one get in? The article How to Get a Job at Google by Thomas L. Friedman of the New York times speaks about an interview with Laszlo Bock of Google. Laszlo Bock is basically the guy who looks for new hires. The interviewer asked Laszlo what he looked for in potential employees. Lazlo lists the qualities that google feels are important in employees. What made the list? The ability to learn and re-learn, leadership skills, humility, collaboration, and adaptability. If I wasn't teaching my students these skills I will try to focus on these skills now. So what is missing from this list that one might have expected? There is no mention on GPA, degrees from Ivy League colleges, test scores, or even IQ numbers. My students would love to hear this. Even if someone doesn't want to work at Google it is nice to know that one of the most successful companies in the world doesn't necessarily care how well you do in a traditional school setting. At the same time it is sad that degrees don't really mean all that much anymore. My favorite line fro the interview would have to be Bock saying that colleges aren't making good on what they promise. I have not fully lost hope in colleges though, I just hope they start teaching our young adults for the current times and maybe looking at top companies like Google for suggestions.
I think every educator that finds themselves exhausted by the constant battle for reforming education in our country should watch this video. Ken Robinson breaks down what he means by changing education from the ground up as opposed to top down like the government has been doing for so long. I seems like everyone is buzzing about what's wrong with education, why education needs to change and they even specify what needs to change. There are very few examples of how to change education. I often find myself deflated by the idea of taking on this huge monster of political agendas and standardized tests that is our educational system. In the story of David and Goliath I would equate myself to a single thread on the cloak of David. Robinson gives us teachers a light at the end of the tunnel, this talk empowers me, the lowly science teacher to feel more like at least on of the rocks that David throws at Goliath. Robinson talks about taking things down to basics and the four purposes of public education. Of the four, he finds one above all else in that public education is done for personal reasons. At the core, humans are diverse and each needs to find their own niche, passion, and talent. Having a public education system helps individuals explore beyond their own backyard and to find themselves outside of their individual bubble. If you strip away all the bureaucracy of the education system you are left with two things, the teacher and the learner. This is what Ken Robinson means when he says lets get back to basics. Robison points out that children are born with the desire to learn and it is only after we start standardizing and "force feeding" them information that children start to resent learning. The government has yet to understand this personal relationship and that teaching is a very human act. Government has yet to understand that they can't hand down all these regulations, standardizing and accusations of incompetent teachers without hurting the art form that is teaching. Robinson likens this to "trying to improve medicine by vilifying the doctors and nurses."
So what should those of us do that want to see a change in education, but see it at as a waiting game for when everyone else (the higher ups) finally gets on board. I have heard mentioned various times throughout the course of my teacher education that we can't do anything at the highschool level until at least colleges change their way of thinking. The truth is that colleges are changing. Robinson claims that Harvard is very big on the flipped classroom and letting students learn collaboratively amongst themselves instead of listening to lectures in class. Robinson encourages the teachers, principals and superintendents to focus on their own "micro-climate". He reminds us that we are essentially in charge of how we educate our students. Robinson reminds us that great revolutions have happened from the people, from the ground up. That if we make a change to education in our own classrooms, within our departments, in our school sites, throughout our districts that eventually this way of thinking will spread. The way of thinking about what it looks like to be educated will spread to our colleges. Maybe a having a degree will start meaning something again. As the people of this country start to act differently, eventually the high level of government will catch on. Robinson gives us hope that the revolution has already started and that we just have to help spread the word. This is me, spreading the word of an educational revolution. Ken Robinson has empowered the individual teachers that feel deflated by the huge battle in front of them. It might sound like a clique, but knowledge really is power. Therefore as teachers we have a lot of power in each and every classroom, every single school day. We don't have to wait for things to change from the top down, we are educators, we create change from the ground up.
I have to say I'm not all that impressed with this article. After reading the comments I can see that it was able to elicit some emotions from readers. Some people were so glad to have read this, like they after reading the article had come to some soft of life changing event. You have people leaving comments claiming they would have not retired had they read this in time. On the other hand, you have people leaving comments basically calling the author overly empathetic and lazy. These critics are judging the author, saying that this lax way of thinking is what is wrong with the education system. I am glad it was written, but I can't say it affected me that much. Maybe it is because I have been a student for most of my life. College isn't much different, especially in your first two years where you are still forced to take classes you might not be interested in. I know what it is like to be one of three hundred being lectured at. I know what it feels like to not want to ask a question for fear of being ridiculed by the professor. Even when I would ask questions in those huge lesson halls, I was so stressed about asking the question that I couldn't even pay attention to the answer. I don't need a reminder of what it is like to be a student. In my class, I am aware of the importance of getting my students up and out of their seats. I know just from being a parent that sarcasm is never helpful and should be avoided if at all possible. I do like the idea of a sarcasm jar though. It has been said that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, so I might just incorporate that into my class. Hopefully this article will reach those that have lost touch with what is happening on the other side of the classroom. It might be a great thing to have all teachers shadow a student like this at some point in their career and then again continuously throughout the years that they teach. Having this happen might also provide a system for feedback throughout the faculty on campus.