Today’s Skills for School. Tomorrow’s Skills for the Workplace!
From America’s #1 Learning Expert…
I used to struggle in school; I would study for hours for a test, then “bomb” it. My grades did not reflect my effort and I often gave up. I figured, “What’s the point of trying if I’m just going to fail anyway?”
Does this sound familiar?
As adults, we are frustrated to see our students and children wandering aimlessly through their schoolwork: losing assignments, poorly preparing for tests, and not working to their potential. Eventually, we see them develop a “bad attitude” and wonder how we can ever motivate them to do better in school.
Employers are seriously frustrated because we are graduating students with NO useful skills! Data from countless sources: employer surveys1, International PISA scores2 (Programme for International Student Assessment), and PIAAC scores3 (Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) consistently confirm that our graduates are not getting the skills needed for success in the workplace from school.
Teachers and administrators are under impossible pressure to improve students’ performance and scores! “Impossible” because student motivation is at an all-time low4. And, with a turn-over rate that has more than doubled in the last ten years, teachers are burning out faster than ever!5 Curriculum demands are so intense, teachers have no creative freedom to be the compassionate “coach” they envisioned this vocation to be. Instead, they feel like drill sargents. Ineffective drill sargents.
Special education teachers are especially under pressure! The number of special education students has risen nearly 40% in the last three decades; while resources have shrunk, expectations have skyrocketed! On top of this, special education teachers often feel like they’re on their “own little island,” trying to support their dear students in schools (and a society) that don’t understand their challenges.
Let’s not rush to blame students! Yes, they are disorganized. Yes, they are disengaged. No, they don’t seem to care too much about school. But, that’s The System’s fault, not theirs! Students know better than us that most of what they learn in school is not relevant to the real-world demands of their future.
Besides, education focuses on their “weaknesses” rather than celebrating their strengths.
It’s no wonder they aren’t engaged!
One Simple Set of Skills Solves ALL of These Problems!
Students are struggling because we aren’t teaching them how to learn, get organized, or think on their own. We haven’t given them the tools to get engaged. Nor have we given them space to celebrate their strengths.
Teachers are struggling because their mandates are growing and then… they have to do all of the work for their disengaged students!
Employers are struggling because the can’t find employees with suitable skills to learn, organize, or solve problems in a rapidly changing world of technological advancement.
The “Most Needed” Workplace Skills Are Also the Key to School Success
My life changed when I learned how to learn. I went from struggling in K-12 to soaring through college with a 3.9 GPA, simply from learning study skills.
My experience totally bucks the trend of the 50% college drop-out rate! More than 50% of students who enroll in college don’t graduate because they can’t meet the demands of school. Instead, I found college to be far easier than K-12.
But, my experience is not unique…
Study Skills Improve School Success by 600%!
Ohio State University confirmed the great impact study skills have on school success. In a published study, they confirmed the graduation rates of students who took a study skills class rose by up to 600%!6
Employers Are Begging for These Skills
The same skills that transformed me into a confident, successful student are the same skills employers desperately need! Dozens of employer surveys consistently confirm that the most “in-demand” skills needed in the workplace are “soft skills.”7 In education, we call them “study skills.”
In one validated survey of employers from growing sectors (including technology and healthcare), 95% of the “most needed” skills cited were the same “soft skills” (aka “study skills”) that I’ve been teaching since I was a college student.
Princeton-based Educational Testing Services (ETS) found that the millennials in the United States perform at the very bottom of nearly all countries in the skills most needed by employers: literacy (including the ability to follow instructions), practical numeracy, and “problem-solving in technology-rich environments.” Even millennials with the most education –those in the 90thpercentile– “scored lower than their counterparts in 15 countries… and only scored higher than their peers in Spain,” according to the ETS report.3
The Solution Is Simple. But, We All Have to Help.
One afternoon, shortly after my first successful semester, I was overcome with intense anger! I had just earned better grades than I ever thought possible. I was discovering confidence I never imagined possible. My world had been radically changed for the better. Yet, one thought suddenly crippled me…
“Why Didn’t Someone Teach Me How to Learn Earlier?”
The skills and strategies that had just revolutionized my life were so simple; I could easily have used them as early as 5th grade. Instead, I spent my years of middle and high school feeling “stupid.” I was suddenly realizing all of that sheer frustration was totally unnecessary. Fortunately, I soon came to my senses, knowing there was no use being angry about a past I couldn’t change. In that same moment, I knew…
I might not be able to change my own past, but I could change the future for others! In that moment, I embraced my life mission… to get these skills to as many students as possible! That was more than 20 years ago and I’ve made a lot of progress.
But, this mission must be embraced by everyone who cares about our children, students, and the future of our nation’s economic stability. Instead of pointing fingers at: the elementary teachers that “didn’t prepare” students for middle school, or the middle school teachers that “didn’t prepare” students for high school, or the high school teachers that “didn’t prepare” students for college, or the college professors that “didn’t prepare” students for the workplace… we need to take action to support our current students, wherever they are.
Educators can teach study skills in the classroom. Employers can provide financial support for these skills in their local schools; meanwhile, they can teach these skills to their own employees. Everyone can build awareness about these critical skills!
Follow a New, More Simple Path
There are many ways in which education can –and should be– reformed. However, our two greatest leverage points are simple and hiding in plain sight.
First, We Must Address Our Country’s Motivation Crisis!
Regardless of school, region of the country, or socio-economic background, students across the country are growing more and more disengaged with school! Yes, technology is largely the reason, but hardly a reason “to blame.”
Why not blame technology? Because technology has opened students’ awareness of a big, bright, fascinating world that’s far more attractive than the read-test-repeat pattern endorsed by The System. Now that students carry access to more information in the palm of their hand than all of the world’s greatest thought-leaders previously had access to in a lifetime, who can blame them for “checking out” of school?
We must get students engaged by tapping into their unique talents, abilities, and strengths. Instead of focusing primarily on gaps and what students don’t do well, we need to turn the spotlight on areas where students excel.
This doesn’t mean that we ignore gaps or challenges. It simply means that we lead with strengths.
Change the Conversation to “How Are You Smart?”
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences gives us fertile ground to begin exploring the answer to this question, “HOW are you smart?” Investing a bit of time into teaching students about the Multiple Intelligences, doing surveys to explore their own intelligences, and searching for “Super Powers” requires little time, but totally transforms school cultures and student motivation!
You can start this conversation right now! Start it with your family, your co-workers, your next class of students. Turn the focus from “deficits” to “strengths” with this one, simple question… and never stop asking it!
Second, Put the 80/20 Rule to Work in Education
Education almost totally ignores a fundamental Law of the Universe, the 80/20 Rule. 80/20 says that 80% of causes only make 20% of the impact. Conversely, only 20% of causes will have 80% of the impact. For education, this means:
- 80% of what we teach makes only 20% of an impact on students. But,
- 20% of what we teach makes 80% of an impact.
This means, if you identify the “most critical 20%,” you can leverage it for serious gains! As I’ve already outlined, the “most critical 20%” for education and workplace success is “study skills!” I’ve already shared my story and data from several sources citing that my story is not unique. In fact, it’s repeatable for anyone who embraces the impact of these life-long skills.
Resolve These Challenges in Just 15 Minutes a Day!
All of the SOAR® programs are centered around empowering students to be successful in school… and eventually, in the workplace! For more information, you are welcome to Contact Us. We are an approachable small company dedicated to making life easier for all of the parents, educators, and students we are here to support. That means a live person will answer your call during office hours and we will help you right away. (In the rare event that you have to leave a message, we’ll call you right back!)
Susan Kruger, M.Ed.
Founder of StudySkills.com
Author of the worldwide best-selling book, SOAR® Study Skills
Get Started Today…
1Employer surveys: http://relevanteducation.org/what-employees-need/
2PISA scores: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results.htm
3PIAAC scores: http://www.ets.org/s/research/30079/index.html
4Student motivation: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309084350
5Teacher turn-over: http://all4ed.org/reports-factsheets/path-to-equity/
6Ohio State University “study skills” study: http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/lrngclas.htm
7Most needed skills in the workplace: http://www.advantageoakland.com/ResearchPortal/Documents/wd_skillsneedsreport2009.pdf
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