Seeing eye to eye

I was reading Dan Pink’s blog recently in which he refers to a survey by the American Association of School Administrators and Americans for the Arts.


The table  draws from the ‘Ready to Innovate’ report which asked employers and school superintendents how they would rank particular 21st century skills.  Interesting to note that two areas in which there is greatest disparity are communicating new ideas and the ability to solve problems.

If you look closely at the survey responses, it seems that US educators place a greater emphasis on the ‘what’  (e.g what is the issue/identify the problem) while employers are looking at ‘how’ to solve it.

How should our syllabus documents and the learning frameworks that flow from them deal with this dichotomy?

Despite a rhetoric about an integrated and balanced curriculum I believe there is a still a perception within the broader community that an academic path is more valuable in today’s world than a vocational one. 

Just look at attention given to the Higher School Certificate and its high achievers every year.

I support the argument that the skills acquired through vocational education courses like problem-solving, use of technology, collaboration, communication etc  encompass many of the fundamental skills required for today’s world. 

Vocational courses are as intellectually demanding as most other traditional subjects. In fact, they are often more demanding given the practical requirement which demands mastery.

They need to be seen as not just easy options or alternatives for schooling as a child-minding exercise.  It’s interesting to see the Tasmanian Government’s solution has been the creation of three separate facilities: a skills institute, academy and polytechnic.

My point is that the best schooling experience we can provide for today’s learner is one that does not separate but rather is a synthesis of academic subjects and vocational courses.  It is bridging the gap between content and context.

Do our schools and employers really see things so differently?

2 thoughts on “Seeing eye to eye

  1. I wonder if it’s that we see it so differently? Sometimes I think it could be that we don’t understand each other. Do employers know what we aim to achieve by an integrated, diverse curriculum that focuses on learning to think and solve problems? And the next big question – if not, how to we get the message out?

  2. In order to be creative, you need to be able to view things in new ways or from a different perspective. Among other things, you need to be able to generate new possibilities or new alternatives. Tests of creativity measure not only the number of alternatives that people can generate but the uniqueness of those alternatives. the ability to generate alternatives or to see things uniquely does not occur by change; it is linked to other, more fundamental qualities of thinking, such as flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity or unpredictability, and the enjoyment of things heretofore unknown.

    for more info: Human Motivation, 3rd ed., by Robert E. Franken

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