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Is High School the Mother of All Event-Based Learning?

Many parents have been ushering now senior high schoolers through the college application process for almost a year now. If you’ve been working at it at this level of intensity for much longer than that, my condolences to you and your child both. The 2015 graduation crop is filling out the last of their applications, sitting in on the last of those interviews and auditions, and perhaps breathing one sigh of relief before starting to panic over fall finals and AP exams they’ll be taking this spring. And once June comes around, they’ll have that one foot out the door and the other tentatively reaching out toward the next phase.

Whether the “2015 grad” is going on to college, taking a gap year, has chosen or is continuing an alternative educational route, it is questionable that the majority of our 18-year-old population is suitably prepared for these next steps. Is it possible that we have spent the past four years prepping and grooming these kids for essentially one task and left them somewhat unprepared to take that next step?

The skills needed to succeed in the years ahead continue to evolve, but even if you submit (as I do) to the premise of “we don’t know what we don’t know yet,” we do know a few things about what it takes to engage in today’s workplace. The U.S. Department of Labor and Education even reported on this in 2000 with its SCANS report and can provide some context for the purposes of today’s discussion.

So, at a time when so many of our nation’s youth are struggling with not only a regular course load but also the challenges of the college application process, it seems reasonable to ask if we have prepared the next generation to engage in, succeed in and perhaps even enjoy participating  in the workplace and society overall.

Can our young adults effectively do the following upon leaving high school?

  1. Identify, organize, plan, and allocate resources (Resources)

  2. Work with others (Interpersonal)

  3. Acquire and evaluate information (Information)

  4. Understand complex interrelationships (Systems)

  5. Work with a variety of technologies (Technology)

Developing these competencies requires a continuous learning process that is designed with ongoing engagements to ensure the building of these processes over time. Agreeably, for many families, as their students go through the application process, there is currently increased emphasis on test scores and application forms. But so much of our PK-12 education has led to this point that it begs the question as to how prepared our youth are once they walk out the door.

For more on effective learning design across the continuum of the educational spectrum, visit us at Designs2Learn.


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As of January 2024, Rewriting Paradigms is back and I'm writing about today's  issues, those that most test us and our humanity.

Designs2Learn blogs were originally published on a separate site devoted solely to educational issues. 

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