School reform has recently garnered a great deal of attention as states struggle to find ways to improve student achivement with fewer resources. Recently there have been a slew of articles focusing on the key role teachers play in student performance (see Building a Better Teacher from the NY Times Magazine). While I certainly agree that education must always work to provide students with the best possible teachers–and work with teachers to provide the best possible training and professional development–I do think we have to mindful of the fact that there are many other factors that influence a students academic performance and ultimate success (see Is Education on the Wrong Track).
I do not want to diminish the importance of curriculum, but a recent article by Bill Drayton, published in the Harvard Business Journal, outlines what I believe could serve as a foundation for school reform. In The World Needs More Social Entrepreneurs, Drayton suggests that the world of the future not only needs educated students, but “change makers” equipped to address the world’s problems. He identifies four complex skills that students must possess if they are going to be adequately prepared to be “change makers” – empathy, teamwork, leadership and change making.
As school leaders are forced to examine how we prepare students for the future, I hope we will heed Mr. Drayton’s advice. Again core curriculum subjects (math, science, language arts and social studies) are, without argument, critical, and will continue to be the public focus. However, in the process of teaching the designed curriculum material we should also be addressing the skills presented in this article–the “hidden curriculum” that is crucial to developing critical thinkers and problem solvers.
We need to teach our youth that they can help people; that they can lead; that they can make lasting and important change in their communities and across the globe. Society, employers, educators, and parents need to recognize that our kids’ successful personal and social development must start with a mastery of several complex skills — empathy, teamwork, leadership, and change making.
– Bill Drayton, Harvard Business Review