(This post by Mike Sweet, CEO of Credo)
As I was watching the final State of the Union Address, I was excited by the importance President Obama placed around education and lifelong learning.
In his address (full text here) President Obama mentioned education several times:
“We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job. The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we've increased early childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, and boosted graduates in fields like engineering. In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids.”
But improvements at the pre-K and K-12 levels of education are not all we need to look at, it’s important to look at learning outcomes in higher education as well. The President goes on to say,
“Americans understand that at some point in their careers, they may have to retool and retrain.”
This is the crux of the issue. The days of going to college and learning a skill that will serve them throughout their entire career is no longer a guarantee. In order to succeed today a person has to be able to adapt throughout their working life, be able to recognize when they need re-training or to learn a completely new skill, and they have to know how to do that. Higher education itself needs to retool and prepare their students for lifelong learning.
Historically, information skills are something we as a society have not done a great job teaching. This trend continues because we don’t understand the importance of information skills in sustained success. Research skills need to be given a place in the educational patheon that is reading, writing, and arithmetic. But even more than that, we must recognize information skills, not as something learned only in school, but as part of the learning continuum that spans our entire lives, which is why I enjoyed President Obama’s final State of the Union address so much.