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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The 21st Century is Now!

I have written here about how important it is to empower students not just so they can report or intervene when they see bullying, but also because these are also the same skills  needed to be successful in the workplace.  A young person I know is currently looking for a job.  Here are the skills listed for the job of project manager at an advertising firm in NYC (taken verbaten off their site):


- Thorough knowledge of design process and ability to discuss in professional terms

- Ability to present and “sell” concepts and ideas to clients

- Experience working in a design studio preferred

- Outstanding written and oral communication skills

- Optimistic, personable, confident, collaborative and analytical

- Excellent organizational skills

- Experience managing scope, schedules and resources

- Self starter with excellent problem solving skills

- Demonstrated ability to work in a fast-paced environment on multiple projects

- Startup mentality. Must be comfortable working hard and in a fast-paced environment.

- Bachelor's degree or equivalent

- Some experience with Adobe Creative Suite a plus

- Minimum 2 years of experience

One of my favorite quotations is by John Dewey:

"We never educate directly but indirectly by means of the environment...The required beliefs cannot be hammered in, the needed attitudes cannot be plastered on...The very process of living together educates...Education is thus a fostering, nurturing, cultivating process."

Kids will only develop the skills in listed in the job posting when they are able to used those skills day to day as an integral part of their education.   Granted that most kids who end up getting those jobs probably went to a a pretty traditional school'  I believe that in most cases those kids developed these requisite skills inspite of the typical experience they had in schools. They might have developed them in extra curricular activities, sports and if they were fortunate, the experiences provided by their families outside of school. 

It is clear to me that the skills listed for job in the advertising agency are fairly typical of most professional companies that involve any type of creative enterprise.  I don't see the skills of "good at following imposed rules for behavior"  "works well for incentives", "completes all the work that they are given", "follow directions and promptly and accurately" '"strives not to make mistakes" or "performed well on standardized tests"  Yet schools are still designed as if the skills listed for the real jobs in the world today did not exist.  Schools especially ones that are designed for order, predictability and efficiency with the adults clearly in control and manipulating student behavior,  are really self serving and not designed to meet the needs of their students.  Ask most kids, even the ones that struggle academically, they would definitely prefer to spend their time in an environment that was actively and intentionally  designed to nurture and cultivate their unique selves rather than get standardized behavior from them.

To me the frustrating aspect of the disconnect between the typical environment of schools and the environment of the professional workplace is that schools really haven't chosen to ignore what kids really need they have just blindly accepted the assumption that kids need to be controlled and can't imagine schools being any other way.  The assumption that Alfie Kohn refers to in the quotation in my previous posting is one that seldom surfaces in any discussion of how we should educate our children-it stays buried deep in the DNA of schools, while the world looks for people with an education shaped by a very different DNA.

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