1 October 2012 10:42 AM

Career Education for Career Schools

by rbavaria

CTE – career and technology education – is gaining importance and popularity in our country.  Rightly so.  What skills will the workers, citizens, leaders, and informed followers of the future need to know for success in their careers and workplaces?  For fulfilling lives?  For satisfying leisure?  For happy families?  For successful communities?


Post-high school learning has become a given in today’s competitive workplace.  The world’s economy demands more of today’s workers than it did not that many years ago.  Our communities are more diverse and complicated.  Our families are busier than ever.


Life changes.


So, for our kids getting ready to leave high school, what should we be aiming for?  What skills, what knowledge, what ambitions, what attitudes, and what values do we want them to leave home with?  What should their post-secondary schools teach?


As a lifelong learner and educator, I have some ideas.  We parents and teachers spend years preparing our kids for independence and adulthood.  The wisest among us start early because there’s so much to do.  School success is vital – mastering the basics and augmenting with reinforcing skills (sometimes called “soft” skills, a term I dislike).


Here are some of the skills I think successful 21st century folks need.


  1. The basics.  You knew I’d start with these, didn’t you?  I start with them because that’s what basic means – the base of all the rest, the fundamentals.  These skills include math for analysis and computing, language arts (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) for understanding, the arts for spiritual and personal growth, and social studies for understanding the world we live in, its history, cultures, geography, and economics.  You can’t go anywhere without these.  Never let up on them.
  2. Creativity.  Engaging the imagination allows for looking at the world in ideal, original and resourceful ways.  Think Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs.
  3. Innovation.  Thinking of ingenious ways to improve how we do things can change the world.  Think of what Andrew Carnegie did for the steel industry, what Bill Gates did for computing, what Alexander Fleming did for curing infectious diseases, and what Pixar is doing for entertainment.
  4. Analytical thinking.  Thinking deeply and knowledgeably allows us to face complicated challenges with our brains, not just our “guts.”  Always the better choice.  Think strategic coaches like John Wooden.  Or deep thinkers like Stephen Hawking.
  5. Communication.  Being able to communicate clearly, simply, and succinctly may be the most valuable of all these skills.  Think Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  Or FDR on giving a speech: “Be sincere.  Be brief.  Be seated.” 
  6. Collaboration.  Working in teams is the way most people work today.  Unless you’re a cloistered religious, you probably have to join forces with someone else from time to time during the workday.  Teamwork proves the adages about two (or more) heads’ being better than one.  Think Watson & Crick, the discoverers of DNA.  Lennon & McCartney.  Rodgers & Hammerstein.  Ben & Jerry.  Lucy & Desi.  Johnson & Johnson.
  7. Adaptability.  Flexibility is essential in a constantly-changing world.  The inability to adapt is the reason for spectacular failures.  Think Soviet Union.
  8. Language proficiency.   Especially world languages in today’s global economy.  Those with the ability to communicate with speakers of other languages have a tremendous career advantage over those who can’t.  Think all those polyglot world leaders who speak two, three, four, or more languages.  Or J.R.R. Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings, who was fluent in over a dozen languages – not including the ones he made up for his books.
  9. Life and career skills.  Initiative, self-direction, social skills, leadership, productivity, accountability – these are some of the skills necessary for success in today’s schools, workplaces, and communities.  Think of your community’s leaders, your church’s pastor, your most effective teacher, your best boss.
  10. Inspiration.  I love this one.  People want to be inspired.  We seek out people who can energize, invigorate, arouse, and affirm us. We want to be moved to action, to reflection, to success, to spiritual fulfillment, to love, sometimes to tears.  Who inspires you?


If our kids have these skills, they’ll be ready for the 21st century world.  Make sure their schools and post-secondary colleges and training emphasize them.




10/4/2012 10:56:08 AM

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