The innovative educator’s dilemma, Part 2

by Steve Wyckoff on February 10, 2010

In the innovative educator’s dilemma part 1, I talked about how your best customers can drive you out of business if you’re not careful. That your best students with the most influential parents will keep you in the old paradigm of education, traditional schooling, right up to the point that they leave for private schools, and your school isn’t meeting the needs of any of your students.

But there is a further dilemma to this story. Even the parents of students who are the least successful, and those that are far less successful, than your best students, believe that every child should be prepared to go to a four-year liberal arts college, and that schools should look much like they did when the parents were students.

This is a real problem. I talk to school leaders all the time who tell me that the fastest way for them to get in trouble is to suggest to some parents that their kids should not go to a four-year college. We’ve done a tremendous job getting parents to believe that education is the key to success. Now we’ve got to convince them that a four-year liberal arts degree is not necessarily the kind of education that is the key to success for their child. Only about 25% of jobs today require a four-year professional degree. On the other hand about 65% of jobs are what we refer to as skilled. These skilled jobs require post secondary education.  But the post secondary education may be in the form of certification programs, associate degree programs, and yes even bachelors degree programs.

Four of 10 of the most popular majors include Social Sciences (ex. History and Political Science) Psychology, Communication, and English

Popular careers of these majors include:
retail store manager
customer service representative
administrative assistant

So the dilemma for school reformers is that we must not only convince educators that they must redesign how they prepare students for their future, but we must also help parents understand that we need to change how their children are educated if they are to be successful in the 21st century. – Steve Wyckoff

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