LI Influencers were recently asked to write about what they wish they could fix, and how. I'm throwing my hat in the ring to share my ideas on education reform.
It's been stated that over 65% of the work that will be done by today's youth hasn't been invented yet. Why then, are we still grooming youth for traditional careers? Over the last several years we have seen students following the "prescribed" plan...go to school, get a degree and get a "good" job. Students have followed this path, yet are not finding work in their fields. Underemployment plagues many young people that have settled for low paying jobs, just to pay their bills. They are carrying tens of thousands of dollars in outstanding student debt, and many are still not working in their field of study. So many are frustrated and many have lost hope and trust in taking advice from "well meaning" adults that have guided them in this direction.
The problem is, we have a society that is conditioned to believe the only way to work is to work for an "employer". Very few people go through school with the goal to work for themselves. It isn't taught, talked about, or recommended by the educational system or by most parents. How can we expect it to be taught, when respectfully, educators are employees themselves, and, so are most parents. How can someone who has never been self employed teach others to follow their dreams and become self employed? There is such a fear in society that we require the "security" of an employer. This was instilled during the industrial age when companies required "workers" to meet their production goals. However, we are not in the industrial age any longer. Unfortunately this "mindset" that we "need" an employer has been so deeply ingrained, people don't realize what they are truly capable of.
My recommendation to #FixIt is to reverse this and instill the belief in our youth that they ARE capable of BEING, DOING and ACHIEVING anything they set their mind to. I would encourage kids to set up their own small businesses by tapping into their creative mind to discover what they most enjoy. Instead of suggesting what the popular jobs of the future will be, allow kids to explore their interests, passions and ask them questions about how they could create their own work using this, and counsel them on what courses they may require to achieve their goal. For instance I recently came across a young man who has a passion for extreme sports....he has put together his own company that raises sponsorship money for kids in extreme sports. He is in college taking courses that support the knowledge he requires to run his specific company. He found a need and filled it by following what he was most interested in, and he is self motivated to learn what is necessary to create his success.
The challenge, especially in teen years, is students don't see value or any connection to what they are learning to being of benefit to create the future they want. If they don't see value, they become disengaged and start challenging parents and teachers and are often labelled as a trouble maker, or a rebel. Today, there are so many ways to learn for the student that is interested and engaged. The key is to utilize all the available learning styles and allow students to access the best minds in the areas they are interested in. We no longer have to settle for the knowledge within our own geographical area. We can learn from the best, globally.
It's important to teach youth to become leaders of the future, self reliant, making decisions based on the goals they have for themselves. The mustn't be afraid of taking a risk, following their dreams, and thinking out of the box. There is always more than one answer, yet we have been conditioned to believe there is only one right answer for everything.
Kids are naturally creative, but that creativity is knocked out of them as they progress through school and taught there is only 1 right answer. Testing squashes the creative mind. A basic example shared by Cathy Davidson, "Conversations That Matter III: Research, Policy, & Practice: The 3rd International Conference on Service-Learning in Teacher Education, A question on a test could be something as basic as naming a farm animal. There can be many answers of course. What if one child writes "a dog"? If this isn't in the specific list of "correct" answers, this child could be marked wrong. Yet to the child that lives on a farm, a dog is a very big part of farm life. They see a different perspective.
Successful entrepreneurship requires a very specific mindset. A mindset that sees possibilities, is able to push through fear, negativity, and adversity. A mindset that doesn't give up through challenge. A mindset that is persistent, consistent, and makes powerful decisions that support their goals, is able to embrace the creative part of the brain to create something from what others may see to be nothing. A mindset that takes personal responsibility for everything in their life. A mindset that doesn't require someone else to provide a solution, or to approve of their ideas being worthy, but takes full responsibility to be the leader capable of finding their own solutions. A mindset that is necessary for the success of youth in the 21st century.
Debbie Ruston has been an entrepreneur and trainer since 1986. She works with individuals, and groups interested in developing their entrepreneurial leadership mindset. Was this article of value to you? Feel free to share it on your social networks and with your contacts, join in the discussion below, and FOLLOW her on the top right corner of this page.
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Debbie Ruston - Entrepreneur - International Trainer, Visionary Leader