The Global Achievement Gap
As a parent, you do what you can to prepare your children for college, and then ultimately, a successful career. Right? You search for the “best” schools that rank high and get kids into top colleges. Although you’re doing all the right things, you’re probably considering schools that are outdated because they are still teaching to the standardized tests. Yup! The curriculum emphasizes MEMORIZATION and COMPLIANCE in a new era where information is a click away.
Do our 11th graders really need to memorize the years each US president held office? Really? That just sucks up a huge part of your child’s brain capacity, which doesn’t leave time or energy to be innovative.
According to Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap, there are 7 key skills that our youth needs to master to be successful in landing great jobs. Don’t wait for your schools to reform because it’ll take a few generations for them to get it right. As a parent, you can instill these qualities right at home. You can also have your children participate in ProjectMERIT, where they start a unique project that they organize and orchestrate on their own. I have all of my students and clients do these projects. Why? By giving them ownership of their project that they build from the ground up, they learn how to solve problems, communicate with business people, create a marketing plan, use social media to create a movement, and to think about major economic, environmental, and medical issues that they will inevitably face in the not-too-distant future. It really changes them from the inside out!
Here is Wagner’s list of things you can do at home to prepare your children for success in their careers:
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving:
Give kids the opportunity to fix things that break at home and don’t hover while they do it.
- Leading by Influence:
Let your kids advocate for themselves. Give them guidance but let them to do the work.
- Agility and Adaptability:
Demonstrate a “can-do” attitude when things go wrong. Enlist their help in finding solutions when things change.
- Initiative and Entrepreneurialism:
Encourage your children to follow their interests that they can take to the next level.
- Effective Oral and Written Communication:
Involve your children in lively conversations and debates. Have them write letters to improve their written communication.
- Accessing and Analyzing Data:
Demonstrate good research skills by showing your children how to find answers to any question and how to find reliable sources.
- Curiosity and Imagination:
Support your children’s curiosity by encouraging them to pursue answers or start projects. Buy supplies and take them places to further explore their interests.
Two-hundred thirty-five years ago, the United States was formed by pioneers who followed their passion for a better life. Only the strongest and most innovative people dared to cross vast oceans to arrive at a hostile place where they weren’t wanted. They became our founding fathers and led America to become the superpower it is today. But, after the Industrial Revolution, and then after the glory days post WWII, Americans have become passive.
We no longer have to work family farms and we have become accustomed to luxuries like nice homes, cars, and 40-hour work weeks. Kids no longer have to work in family-run businesses or farms so they have lots of leisure time. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, students spend each year studying for standardized tests and memorizing useless facts that they could easily find on Google in a few seconds.
Because our students spend much of their precious time memorizing information and learning how to take standardized tests, they don’t have time to find solutions to problems big and small and use their brains to participate in innovative, creative, and exciting projects. It sounds to me like it’s time to make room in our children’s schedules to do something that will develop their initiative and entrepreneurial skills, and get their synapses in their brains firing again!