I just read a great article. The author is James Heckman, a Nobel laureate and professor at University of Chicago. I’m a fan of his work. He’s an economist who studies society’s return on investment from various education strategies. The article I just read focuses on cognitive (traditional schoolwork) and non-cognitive (soft skills) learning . Unfortunately, in this article, Heckman falls into the same trap as Obama and many other public figures by defining educational success almost exclusively as graduating from college.
So now we have millions of college grads, with very general degrees, who have college debts and jobs that don’t require college or no jobs at all. They listened to their parents and counselors and now they’re disappointed.
A better definition of educational success is developing a combination of education and experience that qualifies the student for a job that pays a good wage and provides acceptable fulfillment. Heckman correctly identifies soft skills, such as initiative, confidence, honesty, and active listening, to be important elements in making a person employable. However, the professor seems to believe that white-collar work should be the goal of every student.
If all students succeed in the prescribed goal of obtaining a white-collar career, who will do the challenging and necessary tasks like building trades, industrial trades, and other professions that involve manual labor?
The blue-collar workforce has generally been poorly served by our too general education system. Blue collar workers are forced to learn too much irrelevant information in school. And worse, the specific math and science relevant to blue-collar work, isn’t required for most blue-collar jobs here in the USA. Somehow we believe that the average blue-collar worker can learn all they need to know on the job. And consequently, our blue-collar workers often are not as well-educated as, for example, workers in east Asia and northern Europe.
Is our blue-collar workforce a bunch of failures who just couldn’t make it through college and so chose to be part of a lower caste? Listen to the pundits who prescribe college for all and that’s what you’d conclude.
Here at Saturn Resource Management we believe in the importance and value of the trades. We offer quality education for your professional development. We are creating curricula that focuses on green collar and blue-collar work. Thanks to pioneers, like James Heckman and Ruth Colvin Clark, we understand the value of soft skills and educational design strategies that are based on scientific research. If you’re interested in green-collar curriculum, call us at 800-735-0577.