THE PLATFORM

Being a critic of public schools and their focus on obsolete educational strategies carried over from a past era is not new to me. Many still teach the basic skill sets of the three Rs of the Industrial Age (rote, repetition, and routine) and fail to realize we are well beyond that in today’s job market. They need to update their lesson plans.

Instead of teaching students to prepare for the past, all school systems should be focused on delivering and instilling fact-based skill sets needed for today and in tomorrow’s workforce. These include flexibility, adaptability, creativity, and technology skills. These are beyond STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills. Whatever happened to the emphasis on STEM education? Learning how to play “Angry Birds” on a smartphone or downloading some dancing video to TikTok should not be considered fulfilling tech skills.

Lifelong learning ensures lifelong paychecks

“You may have to continue to learn new things for the rest of your life in order to be gainfully employed.” That is the message which needs to be imprinted on today’s youth at a very early age.

Many new jobs in many fields require continuous learning. Instilling an attitude that “getting a diploma or a degree is not the finish line anymore for education” has to be understood by both parents and teachers as well as the students themselves. And, if they do not apply themselves now, chances are, they will not ever be motivated to apply themselves as an adult.

This goal is more difficult to attain if teachers are not teaching students in the classroom. Kids need stronger supervision when it comes to acquiring skills for the first time and even though some may be inquisitive and have some self-initiative, many need to have additional direct adult contact to get better motivated to learn and retain all these skills.

In addition, they need interactive social skills and cannot develop those skills at home. They also cannot develop those skills while nose-down looking at a smartphone screen for hours. Life is more than a smartphone application.

Staying at home and trying to make progress in education is not working out for most stay-at-home students and they will be at a disadvantage both educationally, as well as socially, if they fall further behind.

At this point, some will never catch up and will be at a permanent disadvantage when it comes to applying for jobs in the future. They will become the perpetual underclass which will be searching for government assistance and dependent on support programs, instead of being confident, self-sufficient, and successful.

Just look around the sidewalk and you will see some young graduates, absent of social skills, who have become “technotarded” lemmings. They cannot face reality unless it pops up on the screen of their smartphone.

These techno lemmings are so unaware of their surroundings, they are the first to lose their smartphone to a street predator looking for an easy mark to steal from. Maybe that’s a cruel life lesson that needed to be experienced by those who need more education, the kind that comes from the street, and not from the classroom.

Parents need to take charge

“Get kids back in school now!” should be the battle-cry of every parent who is concerned about the future of their kids and what types of careers they will be able to pursue when they graduate.

Demand action from those sitting on school boards, school administrators, and faculty who are too wrapped up in social justice issues and revisionist history, instead of having the sense-of-urgency to open up schools to provide real educational skill sets in the classroom. That in-class experience will make the next-generation competitive in the world labor market.

We should be preparing a generation of winners that have the confidence of tackling complex problems and challenges, not a bunch of under-educated whiners who instead have been indoctrinated to believe they are victims and oppressors.

The ability to learn how to learn is more critical today than it was ten or fifteen years ago. Technology is changing so rapidly and solid math and science skills are going to be critical along with the foundational fact skill set of flexibility, adaptability, creativity, and technology skills.

Let’s stop the use of politically correct fluffy euphemisms and obtuse language to describe this problem and be politically accurate. Other countries are preparing a very competitive workforce for the next generation of jobs.

A diploma or degree is not the finish line anymore

Learning about revisionist history is not going to prepare young people with the skills needed to compete for good jobs. The lack of acquiring real skills like reading comprehension, math skills, critical thinking, and other fact-based skill sets will pave the way to a dead-end street that only offers dead-end jobs.

We must instill a focus on life-long learning if we are to prepare young people for real jobs that pay real money. Getting a diploma or a degree is not the finish line for education anymore.

James Carlini is a strategist for mission critical networks, technology, and intelligent infrastructure. Since 1986, he has been president of Carlini and Associates. Besides being an author, keynote speaker, and strategic consultant on large mission critical networks including the planning and design for the Chicago 911 center, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trading floor networks, and the international network for GLOBEX, he has served as an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University.