By Kelli List Wells, Founder, STEM Leadership Alliance
Submitted by CECP
I have been reflecting on the changes that have occurred in education over the last decade. In my previous role, as executive director of education and skills within a multinational company, I was in the center of various reforms. I observed there is a disconnect between K-12 and business that is impacting the future of work. Reform in K-12 is a long process, and the business community can be an incredible partner if they are willing to partner for the long run. I am constantly amazed at the demands within a school and a system that come from students, parents, boards, politicians, businesses, etc, it can be overwhelming. What schools and districts need is for corporate partners to support their existing work. One of the most important ways is supporting professional development. This can be difficult for companies to understand, but educators need learning opportunities to manage the constant daily demands they face. This includes deepening their understanding of English Language Arts (ELA) and math standards, and now the new Next Generation Science Standards. Educators need support to incorporate these standards into their curriculum and we cannot forget the need to address the critical or essential skills that are necessary for the workforce of today and tomorrow.
Educators need to focus on the instructional core (curriculum and pedagogy), which involves breaking down the silos in teaching and allowing students to understand how the subjects connect so they become the critical thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators that own their learning. Whether a teacher teaches a particular content area or if they are teaching all subjects, the subjects are being taught in an isolated manner. This is not how the world works. We like to compartmentalize things, not just content areas. We want to work around the core system through after school programs or other opportunities. These programs are essential but until we address the core, we will not make the essential changes that are needed within the K12 system to impact the future workplace.
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