Monday, January 21, 2013

Filling the Void

 There's a void.

It exists in the lives of many students.  The size of the void is not the same for all students, but for quite a few, it largely goes unaddressed.  The assumption being that, in time, the void will be filled by life experience.

The void exists in the space defined by teachers and parents telling students to work harder, ask questions, take ownership, and strive for better.

The problem is that no academic curriculum specifically addresses those skills and many parents are too far removed from being students that they are not able to clearly articulate how students would go about filling the void.  Lessons from adulthood often falling upon confused ears.  The end result is often frustration over potential untapped, effort less than ideal, and students who do not learn some of the most valuable lessons a connected world demands.  Sure some of these students are making good, if not excellent, grades.  However, are they developing the habits and skills necessary to thrive in a connected world?  In the connected economy?  How do students learn to be brave, take ownership, set goals, accept a growth mindset, build habits of success, and learn to engage with others in a respectful and productive manner?

Of course, science has discovered many aspects of how these can be leveraged for success.  Some of these discoveries are finding their way into the board rooms and small businesses around the world, primarily because the business model served by the industrial age factory system no longer serves the needs of the masses.  The masses want a connection.  They seek personalized experiences.  Design matters.

Schools, teachers, students, and parents have been largely left out of the focus on developing those skills.  Collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, character, and communication still matter in the 21st century.  Many schools are addressing those.  But what approach are we using to teach students to be brave, take ownership, set goals, accept a growth mindset, build habits of success, and learn to engage with others in a respectful and productive manner?  How are we helping them create knowledge, work that matters, to become comfortable with discovering their art, linchpins in the making?

Who or what fills the void?
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