Degrees or Skills? Who is “Most Likely to Succeed?”
by John Templeton (Temp) Keller, Co-founder and Director, Blyth-Templeton Academy
As I often joke with friends, it always feels like a decisive moment in education. And alas, education tends to evolve at a glacial pace. A much posed question these days is what does it mean to be successful, and who really is most likely to succeed?! The ensuing debate makes it seem like a defining moment in education.
For quite some time now, many have been debating the value of college degrees and viability of the traditional college business model as a whole in the 21st century. This lively discussion among educators and thought leaders has contributed to a consideration and adoption of some provocative ideas and models for change.
What Are the Good Questions?
One of our fundamental beliefs at Blyth-Templeton Academy is that asking good questions is far more important than regurgitating correct answers. We need to rise above providing standard, ideological education answers and instead ask some of this moment's most important questions about education, schooling, teaching, and learning:
- Over 100 years ago the United States went from one-room schoolhouses to the robust, industrial model we have now. It was a transformation that was nothing short of miraculous. Perhaps it's time for another change?
- Right now we are attempting to educate a generation of kids who will work in jobs that have not been invented yet. They will be called on to solve problems in a world so complex we can’t even imagine it. How do you design a school system that prepares kids for that?
- While turning students into better collaborators, or having them think more critically might seem like a very good idea, won't changing a student's approach to education this radically inhibit their ability to get into a good college?[hr style="1,2,3,4" margin="40px 0px 40px 0px"]
As educators we are paying attention to the questions, the humanity, and the uncertainty of parents at this decisive moment:
- “Do I want him to do well on the SAT? Why? To get into college? Well, why? I’ve had to really reexamine all of those things—and why do I want all the things that I want for him? Because it’s not like I’m only trying to get him into an Ivy League school or something. I’m really not. I want him to be happy. But I also don’t want him to have any doors closed.”
- “As I consider the kind of education I want for my own daughter, how do I predict what will give her the best shot at future happiness? At being successful—whatever that means?”[hr style="1,2,3,4" margin="40px 0px 40px 0px"]
How Parent Involvement Helps
I for one feel that this is a very appropriate moment to reiterate what we believe:
- We believe that education is changing—shifting from uniform textbooks that provide facts to project-based, experiential learning that develops unique skills.
- We believe that most schools, tutoring, and test prep centers have fallen behind this shift—and not changing fast enough to catch-up.
- We, therefore, believe that partnerships between families and forward-thinking educators present the best shot these days at ensuring an individual learner’s future happiness and success.
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So whether success to you as a parent is for your child to get into a highly selective college, become highly skilled, and/or be happy, we believe that this need not be an either/or. We believe that the straightest line to all three is figuring out what motivates your child to love learning, developing a project as unique as they are, and supporting them as they work to change the world.