A Disruptive Mission StatementPosted: May 14, 2014
Nearly all schools in the U.S. seek to prepare students for college and many included this idea into their mission statement. It is no secret, however, that the education system in the U.S. is not keeping up with many other parts of the world, so could it be that we are mission aligned to the wrong thing? As an example, many European school systems “track” students in a career pathway in high school years. Many states in the U.S. have followed suit with career and technical education programs. Yet, somehow the attainment of a university diploma seems to be the driving force in education in the U.S.
I’m not proposing that college (and I’m talking 4 yr university here) is bad, but I wonder if the focus on college prep is too short sighted. I REALLY want to read a school mission statement that might be: We seek to prepare students for life, where they can balance their work with their passions and be constantly in search of new learning and opportunities. Ok – that might be a bit of a hyperbole, but I would love to see a real disrupter in this realm.
Following my own line of thinking, what would it mean if teachers sought to prepare students for the life that will be outside of academics? I know that it was not until later in my life (in my 30’s) before I found my passion for teaching. This was only because I discovered the field of Technology Education; a field that overlaps with my personal interest in engineering, design, “making”, etc. What if I was made aware of this path earlier? Would it have made me a better teacher? It is hard to say because my previous careers as well as my university experience have certainly shaped who I am today and that comes through in the classroom. Still, I think there is some substance behind preparing students for a fulfilling life outside of school. Design Thinking and Technology Education are not a panacea, but they do offer interesting approaches to teaching skills that, in my opinion, are areas of need like altruism, technical literacy, pseudo-science identification, creativity, adaptability, and passion finding. My hypothesis is that if we could foster these skills to students early on, then they would also translate to a successful college experience.
What would be your disruptive mission statement?