Natural talent, life skills, personality type, and real world knowledge should play a role alongside academic knowledge in college and career choice. But how effectively does our system of education caters for the needs of students today?
Today in the 21st Century, the world and our students, need much more than an antiquated system of education that continues after 250 years to simply attempt to mass-produce learning as though it were a factory manufacturing line. And the focus on providing academic information alone is questionable.
It’s common sense that if today’s employers require much more adequately prepared applicants to provide for the employment requirements of the 21st Century, the problem is unlikely to be resolved using an 19th century approach to education that was originally intended as an option for keeping 12 year olds from working in the coal mines.
To make matters even worse, we have enabled Universities to become businesses in their own right where often fees are beyond the reach of all but the privileged …. and the result is over $1.5 trillion dollars remains in unpaid student debt in the US alone.
And this all based upon the précis that learning and remembering copious amounts of academic information in colleges and universities (often taught by Professors who have academic experience alone, rather than hands-on practical experience of an industry) will sufficiently prepare a student for employment.and success.
It would be fair to remind the reader that today a significant number of those considered to be “commercial success stories” never had a university education, or never completed their time at university. They achieved through a combination of imagination, flair, drive, determination, self-motivation, thinking outside the square, learning what they needed to know on the job, and being able to spot opportunity.
While academic information certainly does serve a purpose and have a value, natural talent, a student knowledge of life skills, themselves and their personality type, and a “real world” knowledge should also be important ingredients of a 21st system of education.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that every child has natural skills and talent. How much better off would society be if we sought to identify those skills at an early age and have programs that help develop and foster those skills, rather than encouraging a gifted artist to become an accountant, or a student with a gift for the Sciences to become a lawyer. This approach would be highly likely to produce much greater number of students that were much happier, successful and fulfilled in their careers because they liked, and were interested in doing what they were employed to do.
By spending more time devoted to teaching Life Skills that supported those abilities, by encouraging self-motivation, determination, creative thinking and informed decision making, education would create far more of a win-win situation for all concerned.
At the same time, we as a society, would benefit by preparing a much more motivated workforce of tomorrow that was not expected to start their lives encumbered by a hundred thousand dollars or more of University debt.
A perfect example of the way in which Career Guidance and Counseling must be improved upon, can be seen by considering the student at High School that thinks for whatever reason they want to become a lawyer or attorney. Unsure of whether Law is actually a career to which they are ideally suited – because they have never had the opportunity to experience what life as an lawyer entails, student makes a relatively uninformed decision . Having made that decision they somehow find the money to attend Law School where they commit the time and huge amounts of money studying general law. They graduate and attempt to find a job without fully appreciating that Law is a professional service that requires specialization. So after graduating they engage with a company and spend the another 3 to 5 years learning more about those specialist fields of Law. As a result, many reach their late-20’s and early-30’s many thousands of dollars in debt and realizing that Law is not something they actually enjoy.
Poor and uninformed choices about career options and college courses are problems that can be fairly laid at the door of inadequate Career Counseling during teenage years, simply because students are not provided unable to make fully-informed decisions. In a time when we try to conceive of the safety of driver-less motor vehicles and space flights to Mars, surely 21st Century education could be doing so much better?