I have to admit I have a bone to pick with traditional education. Okay… an education, college included, is a great asset. Okay… I do think kids need an education. Okay… I do think an education is the foundation of building a great career that can support a family, life experiences, and friendships that can last a lifetime. However, I am not sold on the idea that a degree is the only sign of an education. What about trade school? What about internships? Aren’t they a huge part of education? I truly believe that education never ends. We should always be looking to learn new things.
In addition to learning from books, I believe that we should be teaching students to learn from hands on experiences. There is a world of difference between the experiences I had in college and the experiences I had in the “real world.” Book learning can take you so far, but nothing compares to being in the trenches. Guess what! Employers know that. Why can’t we give students credit for having “real world” experiences by holding down a job more credit – maybe even actual credit – in school? There are plenty of professions that years of experience – and the learning that comes with that work experiences – can take the place of a degree. Work experience also gives you references. Talk about separating you from the crowd and setting you apart!
Information you can regurgitate is good, however, the ability to solve problems is the real marketable skill. I don’t care what your chosen profession is – from office job to farmer to garage mechanic to doctor – you will face problem everyday. You won’t be able to get away from problems. Problem will happen everyday! Learning how to handle issues will keep you in stead employment. Problem solvers are highly prized employees.
Can you think outside the box? Can you think laterally? Can you condense the problem into key issues? Can you address key issues calmly? Do you take charge when faced with a challenge? If you are able to demonstrate your ability to solve a problem quickly and effectively you will be able to be gainfully employed.
Learn how to effectively communicate… written and oral communication skills are essential! Learn new vocabulary words. Learn how to spell. Learn how to organize your thoughts. Being able to solve a problem will be of little use if you are afraid to speak up for yourself or find yourself unable to articulate your thoughts into actionable directions. Someone who can communicate well, in a way that can motivate, is an asset to any employer.
Do you hate group projects? Get over it! Learning how to collaborate is an essential skill in the “real world.” Loners tend to not do well in most jobs. You must be able to work with others and to work as part of a team. Employers are looking for people ho can get along with others, be a part of the team, even if the individuals in the group have differences. Any team member that can work through personal differences is worth their weight in gold! Learn to share ideas. Learn to let others run with their ideas. Learn to work with others, sharing the load.
Above all… LEARNING NEVER ENDS. A diploma, a degree, well, they are just pieces of paper. Learning to learn and learning to love learning is the true value of education.
Just a thought.
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