Friday, April 6, 2012

Don't Get Stuck Digging Ditches

My father repeatedly told me when I was a young boy that if I wanted to dig ditches for a living then I should dig ditches, but he didn't want me to get stuck digging ditches because I didn't have any other options.  That always seemed to make sense to me every time he said it.  Now that the tables have turned and I am a father of three wonderful kids, it is one of my hopes and dreams for them to be able to make their own choices and do the things they enjoy.  Moreover, being an educator and a district administrator, this is something I hope for all children and students.  A big factor to obtaining this goal will be their education.  So, what kind of education will they need?  In a recent lecture event delivered by Tony Wagner to the THINK Global School, he shared some of his findings related to what business leaders are looking for in employees today.  Since, as Mr. Wagner suggests, "knowledge has become a free commodity" and "now, suddenly, everyone has access to all of the information in the world at their fingertips" it only makes sense that education should be different.   Mr. Wagner's research has resulted in the development of what he calls the Seven Survival Skills for Careers, College, and Citizenship.  Those skills are the following:

  1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  2. Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
  3. Agility and Adaptability
  4. Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  5. Effective Oral and Written Communication
  6. Accessing and Analyzing Information
  7. Curiosity and Imagination
If these are the skills that employers are looking for, shouldn't it be the responsibility of educators to foster their development?  Often times I find myself getting too wrapped up in what I'm doing that I lose sight of the big picture.  I always try my best to remember to take a step back and ask the simple questions.  Why am I doing this?  What am I trying to achieve?  What really matters?  Tony Wagner's seven survival skills will certainly become answers to some of my questions and help me stay focused on that big picture.

I highly recommend all educators watch Tony Wagner's Creating Innovators lecture event to learn more about his seven survival skills and their impact on education.