Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Very Skills She Needs She Doesn't Have

My cousin's daughter, now a sophomore at PITT is a nursing student. Her schedule is grueling, to say the least. How grueling? Last week she called her father at 5:30 AM, while riding the bus to the hospital for her clinicals, to ask him to look something up on the computer for her. No, she doesn't have a smart phone and yes, she needs one. But, a data plan is simply out of the question, at this point.

I asked if she was in some sort of study group. No, she's not. I asked if there was any sort of online forum where the nursing students could post questions and share their learning and the articles they find, etc. No, there's not. And no, nobody knows what a PLC or PLN is, let alone how to even begin to form one. The very skills that she needs to be successful in the "real world" are the very skills she lacks.

I suggested that she go to the library (arguably one of the best in the nation) and ask to get some help to learn how to access their databases, and to learn how to make better searches. She's too shy for that. Perhaps terminal shyness. I suggested that I could drive to PITT to sit in with the group to show them how to use Twitter or a private Facebook group to learn together. That might work - if I could do so without making it known who I was related to. Shyness is a terribly debilitating condition, isn't it?

But my point is this. We carry on and hoorah a lot about preparing these kids for real life, yet here is a clear example of how we failed them. They don't know how to learn on their own. We've never talked about it and certainly never modeled it. "What gets tested gets taught" is KILLING us!

No, I'm not suggesting that we stop teaching the 3 R's nor the science nor History, etc. I think that they should certainly know where Iraq is on the map and they should know how our planet functions and how our bodies function - and more. But, what I AM suggesting is that we're ignoring this skill, and it's the very skill that will last WAY beyond the time when they've forgotten the names of the capital cities of the countries, or the number of atomic particles there are in .. something.

I think every business teacher in the country should reexamine their curriculum to see if it includes anything beyond Office - via a textbook.  And, if it doesn't, I think it's time that the curriculum be redesigned and that it be mandatory for every student. It's WAY PAST time. LONG overdue.

Sending our children out into this world without the skills they need to make sense of the world's knowledge and information is doing them a TERRIBLE disservice. Almost to the point of an injustice.

What do you think? If YOU have children in school right now, don't you want them to leave with those skills?


Michelle/Erika said...

Jim, this is so ironic that this blog post corresponds with our "tech audit". I'm hoping that I don't get caught in a "blogging" incident posting this...But I was asked if my students could learn what they need (chemistry) without me using all the "stuff" that I use. Stuff meaning anything technology related...computers, websites, probes, iPods etc.
This is exactly what I needed to read. I know we are in a state of "fiscal reality" (a new buzz word) but there are some components of education that cannot be sidelined because of a budget crisis...someone needs to find a way. If we are in a true crisis then I should see a reduction in all extracurricular, and not in curriculum/instruction. BTW, this is hard for me to say being a die hard sports person.

Ann said...

Wow. Read this as I prepare for a PD session on Building a PLN. Will definitely include the idea of modeling this for our students. Once again thank you, Jim!

c_ciotti said...

Great stuff Jim...as usual!

Before I became the CFF coach I was a business teacher (and always will be). One of my assignments was to have students write a letter to the corporate headquarters of a business they admired or shopped at or just about anything they wanted and actually mail it!--no email allowed.

The businesses were great at sending back replies via the US Postal Service. One business commented they appreciated getting paper mail and had to "make" letterhead inorder to respond to the student's letter.

This was a real eye opener for many of my students as well as their parents!

I had colleagues telling me I was wasting money (postage) on this project! Now that I read your post Jim, I now know I have been doing the right thing!