I had a strange experience yesterday: I attended a lunch meeting of the local Rotary Club. I attended as the guest of my sanguine Superintendent. (The Rotarians in this group earn extra kuddos for using the vocabulary word of the day, and yesterday’s word was sanguine.) The members of this group was representative of the business and civic organizations in our city. Everyone I encountered was friendly, gracious, and genuinely interested in my position in the school district.
Our Superintendent gave a “craft talk” on the school district, focusing on our renewed goals of the Common Core, and the accompanying skills necessary for students and teachers to master, based on these new requirements. This talk of course veered into the realm of technology, specifically the use of devices, including laptops, chromebooks, iPads, etc.
Following this talk, I expected to hear the business leaders clamoring for more technology use in school. I expected comments to reflect what I have recently read, that employers would want the school district to focus on technology, collaboration, and all of the “21st Century” skills.
What I heard, however, was quite different:
“Kids today don’t use their hands enough. It seems like everything they do, they do on a screen.”
“The kids need more PE. All they do is play games and text.”
“Kids don’t know how to relate to other people. They can’t start a conversation.”
Now, maybe the cross section I spoke to leaned toward the older set, or maybe I just encountered all of the crotchety-leaning folks at the meeting. Nonetheless, the feedback I received about our instructional direction was not what I expected, and got me thinking.
How do we, as a school system, know that what we are teaching will actually lead to student success in “college and career?” Do businesses still want some of the “old school” skills, such as handiness, and traditional skills? Do local businesses, which tend to be headed by older leaders -as opposed to large corporations that are headed by younger executives- value the connected skills we are now aiming so high to teach?