Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Education according to those being educated...

Last year I fell into a great lesson on what education should look like (according to my students) in the 21st century as they prepare for graduation, college, and the job market. I tried to recreate it this year, and this is what came of it:

The first image (on the left) is the list of qualities that my senior Econ class has identified as necessary to being successful in a 21st century job market. They created this list based on personal experience and our reading of the book "The World is Flat 3.0" by Tom Friedman. Then I gave them the prompt (written in blue) in the second photo (on the right). I drew a picture of a school building, and asked them to fill in what they needed out of it.

After we filled our school, I asked them to identify the ones they really felt strongly about - a star meant it was super important, an "x" meant that they really felt strongly that it was unnecessary. The list in blue on either side of the top of the school is the list of qualities last year's class thought they needed that was NOT included in the list this year's class created.

Here are some of the thoughts my students shared on their blogs:

Is there still value to the liberal arts education?

There is still much value to the liberal arts education. Today, we tend to focus more on the math, reading, and science as a core of a good education, but the liberal arts (histories, politics, and other sciences) are essential to connecting our knowledge and creating innovations. In the liberal arts, creativity makes the way for innovation and has resulted in many of the advances we have today (multiple typefaces, astrological projections, music players, political analysis systems). Truly, the liberal arts program makes our core knowledge more diverse, which then results in more learning and  our learning how to learn.

Is there still value to the liberal arts education?

While I do see the importance of the liberal arts' program, I truly don't think it is necessary and valuable any longer in today's society. It is good to be a well versed and well rounded person, but typically employers today are looking for localized and focused personnel. Typically a mechanic would not get hired because they know extensive history and ancient literature passages, but if they are good at what they do, which is fix machines, they will get hired. I also believe you spend the majority of your elementary, middle school, and high school practically in the liberal arts department because you are learning a little about everything. It seems as if liberal arts is for those people really don't know what they want to do with their life and liberal arts helps to guide them into something else. Like Steve Jobs mentioned in the text he didn't know what he wanted to do but went to college anyways. In my opinion this can be both beneficial and harmful. He learned what he wanted to do through exploring different areas and not being so focused on one subject, but he also wasted a lot of money getting there. In my opinion, it is the person's job to sort through what they are interested and not interested in to help them prepare for their future.

Is there still value to the liberal arts education?

I believe liberal arts education has more value than society displays it to have. The liberal arts need to be more emphasized than they are today. In my opinion, liberal arts education allows for and develops creativity. I think it also encourages abstract thinking. These two skills, creativity and critical thinking, are skills that are lacking in our math and science focused world. Creativity and innovativeness is especially important in today's flat world. Jobs that don't require creativity and abstract thinking are easily shipped overseas. Those who are creative are more able to compete in this globalized economy.

I also believe the liberal arts can be intriguing and encourage curiosity. Many people do not enjoy learning science or math. The liberal arts involve many subjects that people would enjoy. Because they enjoy this subject, they may grow passionate about it and new innovative ideas could arise. Although many jobs may require math and science backgrounds, I believe an education in math and science AND the liberal arts would be ideal. It would also give an individual an advantage in the workforce.

I watched a TED talk this year entitled, "Schools Kill Creativity." In this presentation, Sir Ken Robinson outlined schools lack of emphasis on the arts. Although this is only one component of liberal arts, I believed it still pertained to this issue. Robinson stated schools don't allow for people to be creative. Instead, they enroll students in the generic math and science classes. He also states how schools kill curiosity. In daddition to the lack of support for the arts, schools discourage failure. Failure and being wrong are seen as bad things and everybody tries to avoid them. In reality, however, originality and creativity arises from failure and being wrong. If everyone feared failure, new things wouldn't be discovered, new inventions wouldn't be created, technology wouldn't be as developed, our world wouldn't be flat. The liberal arts encourages exploration and abstract thinking. It may not have set answers or reasons. For this reason, the liberal arts encourages creativity, something missing in our flattened world.

"Fu bu guo san dai" If the first generation builds, the second maintains, and the third squanders, what will you (your generation) do?

      I believe my generation is still not building up the money we used in the third generation.  We are trying and the high paying people with good jobs are trying to save the money but since our unemployment rate is so low during this generation, it is making it difficult for people to save their money.  According to the text, the Chinese are amazed that Americans are allowing themselves to drown in debt. They believe we are becoming more ill-disciplined, distracted, and dissolute. We under-fund public schools while the media is focusing on fighting over feeding tubes. People need the money so much our economy right now that saving money is harder than it was in earlier generations. Therefore, I believe that people are trying to save up money again but we are continue to drown in our debt and we are becoming more and more in trouble when it comes to trying to get our money back and save it.

Blog Prompt: "fu bu guo san dai" If the first generation builds, the second maintains, and the third squanders, what will YOU (your generation) do?

Based upon the above saying, I would say my generation consists of the adapters and reinventors. Previous generations worked to become successful and maintain it and our predecessors waste away that success and lose it. Therefore, we are responsible for regaining that success. However, because times have changed, which may have caused us to lose our successes, we must learn how to adapt to the changing times. We also must use creativity to create new ideas to aid in regaining success. For this reason, we are the transitioners, the ones who are relied upon to create change. A change for the better.