What sort of workers should schools produce? Do I care?

This article details the results of a comprehensive study into how well schools are doing at preparing students for careers and citizenship in the 21st century.

The answer, it appears, is a resounding 'badly'. Now, this was a US study, but I can't imagine that the answers would be particularly different if it was done here. We win at conveying content - the facts that need to be memorised - but our fail is epic in the areas of critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, leadership, adaptibility, communication, imagination and creativity.

Now, this study focused on what employers want. The researcher didn't go out and ask 'what makes a good citizen?' Probably, though, the answer would be very similar, but that's not the point here. We are not what we work. We are whole people, and the purpose of schooling is not just to mould us into economic units of labour.

So, am I in favour of teaching critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, leadership, adaptibility, communication, imagination and creativity? Hell, yes. Am I in favour of it because that's what employers want? Hell, no. I'm in favour of it because those attributes are the very ones that make good citizens.

Views: 23

Comment by Rebecca Lush on October 16, 2008 at 11:14pm
That is a statement that I can agree with. We need to educate our youth to think for themselves and be creative in their problem solving. It will help at work, but it will also help at home and in the social and political arenas. Too many kids are taught to memorize and repeat facts, but they are never taught to think things through! Educating children to be better people will be to society's benefit.
Comment by Gwyneth on October 17, 2008 at 1:28pm
The cynical part of me says that politicians don't want citizens who think things through... it's a horrible thought. I agree though - critical thinking, problem solving and creativity will help in all areas of life, and it's a shame that the only argument that sways education systems is the fact that employers want it.
Comment by Jennifer Hall on November 6, 2008 at 8:27pm
Here in the US many of the big players in the high stakes testing game are actually folks who represent corporate interests. They want tests that will help to influence/create a curriculum that will create the workers they want.

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