The System is Failing Our Students…But We Can Fix It

“Employers (are) reporting that high school graduates enter their roles missing the skills they need to do their jobs well.
The Opportunity Myth Study

Work hard in school, and you’ll be successful. That is something every kid in America hears, and believes. This mandate, though, leaves out an important side of the equation: Is school working for kids?” writes Eillie Anzilotti in her article, Kids aren’t Failing-Schools are Failing Kids, for Fast Company. As a child, I remember receiving that very same advice. So, that is exactly what I did. I am one of those weird kids that actually enjoyed school. I have always had a passion for learning new things and pushing my mind to its limit. I often reflect on my high school and college experience. It was truly the tale of two educations!

I struggled academically during my high school years. I made low B’s, and C’s and I wasn’t very interested in what was going on in the classroom. I worked really hard like everyone said to do, but no matter what I did my grades did not improve. My dream was to play college basketball, but my jump shot didn’t improve either, and I did not see any scholarship offers in my future, and with my grades, I wouldn’t have been able to accept any. At that point in my life, I decided to make the decision to quit basketball my senior year and focus on improving my grades so I could make sure that I was accepted into a university. My hard work actually paid off this time!

College was a totally different experience. I loved every moment of it! The fact that I was able to have a choice on which classes I would enroll in, decide when I would take these classes, and I didn’t have to go to class if I didn’t want too, made all the difference for me. The X-factor in my college versus high school experience was choice and the options that ‘choice’ gave me help me to fall in love with learning in a new way. James Bach in his book Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar focuses on keeping an open eye for new learning experiences and teaches you to ‘size-up’ every situation and decide if there is a learning opportunity there.

I believe that if schools want to stop failing our kids, then students need more choice. Students need a voice, and students need to fall in love with learning. This is a brand new generation in our classrooms, in our homes, and at our job sites. Students need to be able to explore different career choices so they can get a feel for what their future might be. My high school didn’t have opportunities like this. I believe that if I would have had a chance to explore my future, then I may have realized a lot sooner that I enjoy teaching, training, and helping others find their passion in life! Educators, the ball is in our court to help our students find their path to “learning to love learning” and not just learning to pass a test! Business leaders make sure you support your local educators because they are the ones preparing the next person that will walk through your doors for an interview.

Read More: Kids aren’t Failing School-Schools are Failing Kids

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What are Power Skills? Do I Need Them?

‘Soft Skills’ is a Major Misnomer

Critical thinking, persuasive writing, communications, and teamwork are not fluffy, nice-to-have value-adds. They’re hard-won and rigorously maintained abilities that are better referred to as “power skills.
-Anant Agarwal, Data Reveals Why The ‘Soft’ In ‘Soft Skills’ Is A Major Misnomer

Mark Cuban made a prediction that many people in the technical fields found shocking: in ten years, “a liberal arts degree in philosophy will be worth more than a traditional programming degree,” writes Agarwal in his article for Forbes Magazine. This news was shocking but as he stated in his article it does actually make sense.

To succeed in the near future will require employees and leaders that are capable to think outside of the box and solve problems creatively. The cookie cutter method of doing things is on its way out of the door. Automation will take care of a lot of the easy task. Employees of the future will need high levels of social and emotional intelligence to go along with their critical thinking and communication skills. The reason why social and emotional training is so important is that millennials and the next generation will continue to flood the job marketplace, and ‘old school’ managers will need to adapt to their needs.

The term ‘Soft Skills’ really is a misnomer because the people that have these so-called ‘Soft Skills’ have to be strong mentally to deal with the ever-changing attitudes of those that don’t have those same skills. I agree with Agarwal that the term soft skills should be changed to “Power Skills.” In order for this to be accomplished will also require a mindset shift. We have to start the process of looking at “Power Skills” as skills that require power to perform them at a high rate. These skills must be put at the top of our training sessions and asked about thoroughly in interviews. These are the skills that must be invested in financially because we find value in what they will bring to our teams and organizations.

Agarwal also shared the results of a Google study, he wrote, “Last year, Google announced the findings from an internal study…they found that their best teams weren’t the ones full of top scientists. Instead, their highest performing teams were interdisciplinary groups that benefited heavily from employees who brought strong soft skills to the collaborative process. Further research revealed that important predictors of success within Google were skills like good communication, insights about others, and empathetic leadership.” Today is the day to invest in your future and your organization or be left behind!

Read More: Data Reveals Why The ‘Soft’ In ‘Soft Skills’ Is A Major Misnomer

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