I love what I teach, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. There is definitely something to be said for scholarly endeavor, and for instilling in students a lifelong passion for the liberal arts. All the same, it’s unfortunate that, by comparison, schools place so little stock in teaching kids other highly relevant life skills. After all, it’s great to cultivate critical thinking skills through core academics, but as educators, let’s be honest with ourselves. We need to seriously rethink whether a turgid emphasis on scholarly pursuit alone really prepares students to prosper in the real world.
Here is my top-five list of what schools and teachers fail to do.
We fail at teaching students how to market themselves
If you think “marketing” is a dirty word, and that educators have no business teaching students how to do this, you need to reconsider your role. In today’s digital age, it may be true that plenty of students know how to create digital media, but too few know how to produce high-quality content, the kind that makes them stick out to not only college admission officers, but also potential employers. What does this involve? We need to teach and encourage students to post original, quality content to brand their unique identities in a sea of increasingly indistinguishable resumes—which are going the way of the typewriter. Last year, I encouraged a talented student-journalist to post his work on Pathbrite, an online electronic portfolio that showcases his diverse writing, broadcasting, and reporting talents. I am currently helping a talented student-photographer create her own site, which she will use to brand her creative identity. At the very least, I encourage all of my seniors to create a Linked-In page....