Scott Mc Leod’s Seventh Pillar – Changing How We Credential Teachers

“Alternative credentialing mechanisms that enable individuals to quickly deskill for and adapt to rapidly-evolving workforce needs and economic trends.”

There’s an Italian saying that goes something like this,,,,, “dietro logia”. It means “the message behind the music.” In Italy I’m told it is a kind of art form. An example might be that someone comes up to you and says, “I see you washed your hair today.” Hmm, what is the message behind the music? Does she mean that she is glad I washed my hair today because I don’t wash it often enough?!

I had to apply a little dietro logia behind Dr. McLeod’s seventh, and on his list, his last pillar for MFS. What did he mean by this? I’ve taken it to mean that he believes that credentialing systems we currently have in place are too slow, not proactive enough, to create ways to license or better put, re-license teachers in new and perhaps more relevant content and skills areas as workforce needs and economic trends may dictate.

Another complementary possibility might be that we say once and for all that the bulk of our schooling-expectations are about our citizenry’s ability to compete economically and quite frankly, earn a living. We’ve dealt with how or what we want our schooling to be in previous posts, ( see What Does the EduFuture Want? What Does it Demand?) so you can review that and others to ground where you may be.

Other issues can be inferred from Dr. McLeod’s seventh pillar. Does it follow that his advocacy for teachers’ re-credentialing to more nearly and more quickly aligning with newer job demands as future may dictate, suggest that we need to restructure our schooling system, perhaps akin to European systems like Germany. There are other examples internationally too, but basically most European systems have mechanisms in place that slot students into technical, (the old word was vocational), or academic paths.

For the most part we don’t do this in the United States. Academic graduation requirements are essentially cookie cutter for students of all abilities and all strengths. It is noteworthy though that Career and Technical Education programs are being funded and supported in many regional education agencies across the country. Where I live, Eastern Suffolk BOCES is a good example (esboces.org). And they are actively collaborating with my university (St. John’s),to support doctoral research in this regard.

In any case, McLeod’s seventh pillar makes complete sense. Its implementation suggests a fluidity of thinking and a proactive mindset that any MFS would absolutely need.

Broccoli vs Mathematics? STEM and Minority Populations

Special Note: Much thanks to three of my St. John’s University students, Wilfredo Abrahante, Kim Casaburi, and Tanya Weisberger for contributing to this blog entry!
 
 
 
The Raytheon Co., one of Massachusetts’ leading employers of STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics)  professionals, conducted a survey of 1,000 middle school students across the country and asked them if they preferred doing math homework or eating broccoli. The winner, with 56 percent of the vote was … broccoli.
 
We could certainly future THAT tidbit lots of ways. For one thing it certainly suggests a DIStaste for mathematics that supersedes the general perception of youngsters’ preference for broccoli.
 
If this is true, and if other potential negative assumptions generate about American education from this, what does this suggests about education’s impact on our ability to maintain a leading role in the 21st century global economy?
 
Consider other related facts:
 
Black and Latinos, compared to Asians and whites, only have about half as many post secondary college degrees.
 
The Center for American Progress and the Center for the Next Generation released a joint report showing that more than half of U.S. postsecondary students drop out without receiving a degree.
 
When it comes to STEM jobs, the pipeline issue is complicated further. The U.S. Department of Commerce projected that in the decade leading up to 2018, STEM occupations would grow by 17 percent, compared with 9.8 percent growth for all other occupations.
 
 Across the country, across all occupations, there are 3.6 people for every one job. In STEM fields, there is one person for every 1.9 jobs.
 
Employers can’t find the talent to fill these jobs, which is even more surprising considering that the U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that the median salary for engineering majors was the highest of any profession.
 
Supply is low and demand is high.
 
There is a mismatch between projected future jobs requiring STEM skills and the projected supply of qualified workers to fill them.
 
Minorities and women are highly under-represented in STEM occupations.
What are we going to do?

Readers of this blog know that a skill of Futuring certainly involves studying trends. And one undeniable trend is the accelerating rate of immigration from Hispanic countries to the United States. In addition the birth rate of the current Hispanic population in the United States suggests that by roughly mid century that set of ethnic groups will be the majority in the country.

A metaphor comes to mind … If the decision makers, educational and political, do not make concerted efforts to include all minority populations, including females of all ethnicities, in quality education that gives STEM subjects its proper due, it would be tantamount to playing baseball with one arm tied behind out collective backs. In other words, we would be limiting / hampering our entire country’s ability to continue to be the economic and social power we presume ourselves to be.

So if you don’t take this as a moral imperative at least consider this as an economic one.

The cross impact matrix below, certainly not a complete one, projects certain probable futures and how these could impact our country in a variety of ways. Use it to project your own futures.

More importantly use it to chart PREFERRED futures!

POSSIBLE FUTURE MINORITIES UNITED STATES US WORKERS US ECONOMY
INCREASED NEED FOR STEM JOBS IF IGNORED RELEGATED TO UNSKILLED LABOR NEED TO DEVELOP REAL PLAN FOR ENCOURAGING TRAINING IN CAN ONLY KEEP ECONOMY GOING IF ADJUSTMENTS MADE WIIL DECLINE IF PROPER ATTENTION IS NOT DEVOTED
OUT PERFORMED BY OTHER COUNTRIES WILL COMPETE WITH OTHERS FOR LOW PAY JOBS MAY DEVELOP SHORT SIGHTED PLANS WILL SUFFER FOR LACK OF PLAN AND WILL WILL SUFFER IN ALL ASPECTS
LACK OF CONCERTED EFFORT TO ENCOURAGE STEM EDUCATION BECOME A PERPETUAL UNDERCLASS ISSUE BECOMES A POLITICAL FOOTBALL BECOME VICTIMS TO POOR PLANNING MUST SEEK OTHER FORMS OF VIABILITY
LACK OF CONCERTED EFFORT TO INCLUDE MINORITIES PERPETUAL UNDERCLASS COULD LEAD TO SOCIAL UNREST ELITE FEW HAVE PROSPERITY DIVIDED BETWEEN HAVES AND HAVE NOTS LACK OF DIRECTION SPIRALS DOWNWARD

 

         

The Backwards Decision Tree: Truly Making the Common Core Work

If educational decision makers really believe that the Common Core is the Holy Grail for 21st century learning it follows that they want to see that its implementation is both done properly and that its momentum will sustain itself. Momentum, and sustainability of so-called educational reforms are not usually what characterizes educational planning.

One way to future-proof its implementation would be to use a Decision Tree. That is, there are processes leaders can use to anticipate a future and can help leaders build toward that preferable future. Clearly this recurring theme is anchored once again in both how we perceive what our future will be and what we consider the basic function of education is in the first place.

You can, you see, build toward that preferable future if you think about the control you have over it.

This Common Core push is partially attributed to I think, by the recognition that what we are teaching now is mostly “empty calories”, that is, teaching that does not prepare the learner for the future at hand.

The best future careers according to FreeFromBroke.com, by Glen Craig and taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics are

– Healthcare

– Engineering

– Technology

– Education

– Entrepreneurs

– Sales

Distill these needs. Of course in each case each profession requires a content / knowledge base. Then go deeper. Each profession requires that their practitioners can think on their feet, problem solve, collaborate, and create.

Marie O’ Doherty, a Common Core Standards Specialist for Sachem Schools pointed out to me that ” “for students to be ready for college, workforce training and life in a technological society, they must be able to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information, and ideas.”

We also know that future workers will likely change jobs at least four times across their work career. If that is so, and it seems likely that it is then we find yet another justification for getting deeper into the Common Core expectations than I suspect they are being currently implemented as. By that I mean, schools may be putting CCS into place and are also hopefully providing accompanying professional development, yet the quality of the both implementation and training may yet be cursory and superficial!

Therefore to make it work and make it last true edufuturing planning must be used.

 WORKING BACKWARDS FROM THE FUTURE WE YET KNOW. WHAT WILL IT BE?

Basically you work your future backward. That is, you envision the future that you prefer factored against and with your estimation of trends and developments in the future. Then you work backward from that.

Let me give you an example…

In 2014 I will be 25 pounds less than I weigh right now in February 2013.

So, in March 2013 I will lose 3 pounds. In April 2013 I will lose 3 pounds. And so on.

Of course understand that this is (while really difficult for yours truly) a very simple example. What’s missing for example is that in February 2013 I probably should also decide on a plan to lose that 3 pounds a month and factor that in. For example,

In February 2013 I will join a gym and go there 5 times a week for an hour a day.

In March 2013 I will increase my water intake by 50 % and reduce fats by 10%.

This plan obviously has more meat on it (no pun intended).

An EduFuture example:

By 2015 Common Core Standards implementation in 2013 will result in an increased graduation rate of 5%. (You can argue the quality of the preferred future I cite, it is meant as an example)

How would you train a group of stakeholders to think this way? How would you hold their hands to the fire?

Work backwards. If you mean to use CCS as a basis for increasing the graduation rate what must you do in 2014? What must you do NOW?

Trilaboration: When the Lines Among Higher Education, Corporations, and Research Centers Blur

Rick Docksai, associate editor of THE FUTURIST and World Future Review (rdocksai@wfs.org) has reviewed Jerome and Theodore Gordon and Elizabeth Fiorescu’s book, 2012, State of the Future, which is part of The Millennium Project (www.millennium project) in the latest edition of THE FUTURIST.

Docksai apparently rightfully praises The Millennium Project for its “forward-thinking global scholarship” and cites several insights that the book offers.

As you’d expect I scoured his review for something directly slated toward education’s future. I did note one however “stretched” that did seem to allude to education: “Companies, universities, and research centers will increasingly form partnerships and cooperation networks, combining their expertise to bring new advancements in nanotechnology, photonics, advanced manufacturing, and other areas of endeavor to fruition.”

A couple of things struck me. One was that the quote above more or less affirms what I offered in the previous post, namely that education and economic endeavors will be even more entwined than they are now. On one hand I find this a laudable development in that it only makes sense that learned and expert minds will find ways to Trilaborate to invent new technologies for society’s advancement.

And the other hand it also is clear that the lines among higher education, companies, and research centers become even more blurred. One obvious, potential negative future that could emerge out of this sort of Trilaboration would be how or to what extent higher education might be compromised by the financial power of super-companies. Does higher education become subservient to the super – companies’ economic and profit aims?

Now think about the system that feeds those Trilaborators. Follow it backward down the system chronology. If Higher Education’s aims and visions become twined with Research Centers and Super Corporations doesn’t that also mean that Universities will demand that their K-12 feeder systems send them students likely with the capacity and the talents to feed the Three-Headed Monster?

What kind of Common Core Standards would we be talking about then?

Arguing for Economics as Education’s Priority

Napoleon said that an “army travels on its stomach.”

I take that to mean that any group or organization needs the capacity to sustain itself in order to continue itself.

So too must we consider a society, a society whose very existence can no longer be considered self sufficient, if it ever was, UNdependent of the globe’s other societies’ well being. Like it or not we live in what Friedman called a “flattened world”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Thomas_Friedman_2005_(4).jpg

So, a good case for Napoleon’s point of view some two hundred years old certainly has merit!

Add in a twenty year old slogan of one James Carville, http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/c/james_carville/index.html President Clinton’s campaign manager who said, “It’s the economy stupid.”

Nonetheless, we’d all like to think, that our own society, arguably the world’s most influential, needs to ground its policies and plans into thoughtful, long-term actions, that will enable it to thrive and to positively influence its fellow global citizens.

The thriving to which I refer actually speaks to many leadership challenges. These include but are not limited to

– being exemplary environmental global citizens

– being proactively sensitive to the needs of all people and groups

– maximizing the positive potential of all manners of technological advances

Now let’s return to the poll two posts back and to the “results” posted. I’d personally argue for the premise of process as I have said many times across many posts. That is, the more nearly American Education focus its curricular and instructional efforts on creating a nation of critical thinkers, effective decision makers, and creative problem solvers the better served we all are.

These would be citizens who can contribute to a lasting and successful economy, one that would be able to effectively maximize production, consumption, and wealth for the collective and individual good.

My “decision” doesn’t EXclude the other choices. Rather, it umbrellas them.