Wednesday, January 7, 2015

BusinessWants?

When you ask business people what they are looking for in employees, here’s what you get:  
  • Critical thinking and analytical skills
  • Strong communications and interpersonal skills
  • Prowess as a team player and collaborator (with all kinds of others)
  • Ability to solve problems
  • Self-motivation
  • Positive attitudes
  • Honesty, trustworthiness, and dependability
  • Strong work ethic
  • Willingness to learn, unlearn, relearn, and adapt to change
  • Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
What worthy collection of folks wouldn't aspire to such attributes for their children? Parents...Communities...Churches...Schools...Businesses...Volunteer organizations...Nations?

Are those attributes shown above hard to measure?  You bet!  That is precisely the reason that business places such high value on them. 

I am perplexed as to why so many politicians and folks in the business community continue to overemphasize the production of high test scores only in limited academic content (e.g. math, science, social studies, and English) as the magic elixir for the development of our children.  And, that content is measured primarily by dubiously valid multiple-choice exams, at the expense of the skills shown in the business-wants-this list at the top of this post.  

There seems to be a real disconnect here, between what business folks say they want via numerous surveys and what they support through their political leveraging mechanisms.

Schools are ideally positioned incubators for the development of the "soft" skills business folks say they want in prospective employees.  Yet schools have been commandeered, for the most part, by a slavish obsession for the holy grail of high scores on exams that are purely academic-content driven.

In the small school in west Texas where I work (Guthrie Common School District), we have made some very thoughtful and deliberate decisions to deviate from that misguided testing pathology and focus a great deal of effort on the development of the whole child (not just the academician/technician).  We use the Guthrie Graduate Profile to guide our work with children on a day-to-day basis (and, no, we don't forsake the academic content).  (I invite you compare that graduate profile with the list of espoused business wants at the top of this page.)

They're OUR children, after all.  Nobody wants more for them, aspires more for them, nor loves them more than we do.  And, no one has a higher stake in their eventual happiness, success, and productivity as adults.  

We're right pleased with our decisions in regard.

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