What is the goal of education? If you ask ten people, you’re likely to get fifteen different answers. AEP Distinguished Achievement Award Winner Dennis Littky and Samantha Grabelle discuss this in their well-regarded book, The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone’s Business. They draw from classroom experience and postulate that education is expected to teach students to:
- be lifelong learners
- be passionate
- be ready to take risks
- be able to problem-solve and think critically
- be able to look at things differently
- be able to work independently and with others
- be creative
- care and want to give back to their community
- have integrity and self-respect
- have moral courage
- be able to use the world around them well
- speak well, write well, read well, and work well with numbers
- truly enjoy their life and their work
Common Core succinctly summarizes K-12 education as
“…prepare students for college and career”
Ask a Tech Teacher contributor Sara Stringer focuses in on high school and shares her thoughts on three skills important to their future:
After high school, teenagers are sent out into a world that they often have no real concept of how to live in. Sure they’ve been taught academic lessons which can help as they seek higher education, but when it comes down to it, many are unprepared to handle life in general. Without the necessary life skills, teenagers are left feeling vulnerable in the world. This is not to say that the average high schooler should know everything about life (let’s face it, even adults are still learning how to navigate life), they should have a basic understanding that will help them succeed in school, the workforce, and life in general.
Whether they’ve decided to go to college, the military, or simply going straight into the workforce after graduation, they’ll need to know how to effectively manage their finances. With Fox Business reporting that a staggering 83% of high schoolers have no real idea of how to manage money effectively, you can see how this life skill can come in handy. As the global economy struggles to bounce back from its overwhelming amount of debt, it goes without saying that financial management should be a skill that’s taught early on. Effective lessons can provide high school students with the basics on how to effectively budget, save, and invest their money to prevent extensive amounts of debt or personal financial ruin at an early age.
Do you remember the first load of laundry that you washed, or the first meal that you prepared? If you’re like most teenagers it was a bit of a disaster. Learning basic skills such as how to do laundry, cook, and clean are vital to teens at an early age. Whether they live in an apartment or a dorm, chances are they’re not going to have the financial means to pay someone else to clean their laundry or order takeout every night. Teaching them the basic household skills ensures that they’re able to be self reliant once they get out into the real world. While these life skills are best taught at home, school systems that have courses such as home economics can assist teens in learning culinary basics for surviving day to day.
There is not enough emphasis on preparing high school students for the workforce. Many high schools often assume that these life skills will be taught while in college. However, many teens go straight into the workforce after graduation, while others take on a part time job to earn income for their college education.
The average employer is looking for applicants that have necessary qualities that will bring value to their organizations. Some of these core competencies include:
- Effective Communication – No matter what type of job a student intends to obtain, they will need to be an effective communicator. Integrating technology in the classroom can be a great way to improve high school students’ abilities to communicate effectively. Educators can focus on developing these skills not only in written forms (such as through emails) but also through oral form such as through oral presentations and public speaking lessons (for instance recording their presentations and allowing them to critique themselves).
- Organization and Time Management – An organized employee is generally great at managing their time. Students should be taught how to organize their school day accordingly so that they can achieve maximum results. Educators can consider utilizing tools such as a high school student planner that allows them to jot down all of their requirements for the day and keep track of important assignments.
- Diversity/Team Player – If you’re unable to work effectively with others, you won’t be of much use to a majority of employers. High school students can learn how to work in a team setting by implementing group projects and allowing them to walk through the process from start to finish. This teaches them effective communication and the basic skills of working with a diverse group of people.
High school years are often the most trying and awkward for students. Not only are they learning new concepts academically, but they’re transitioning into adulthood. As teachers and educators of high school aged children, it should be a top priority to incorporate life skills into everyday learning. Teenagers who have been equipped with the basic skills such as those discussed above have an increased chance of succeeding no matter where life takes them. Such life skills teaches them to be self reliant, confident, and capable of handling many of life’s challenges in a more effective way.
Sara Stringer is a former medical and surgical assistant who now does freelance business consulting. She enjoys blogging and helping others. In her spare time (translation: the time spent doing what’s most important), she enjoys soaking up the sunshine with her husband and two kids.
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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.