Monday, August 6, 2012

A Town in the Land on the Planet in a Galaxy...

Bill Harley wrote a folk song entitled Milky Way.  In this song he talks about living in the Milky Way where there is a “fine star called the sun” around which “a planet spins,” that has lands with towns and streets with very fine people living on them. He is, of course, speaking of us on Earth.  In the play, Six Degrees of Separation, written by John Guare in 1990 and translated into a film in 1993, the “existential premise that everyone in the world is connected to everyone else in the world by a chain of no more than six acquaintances” was explored.  Both of these speak to the fact that we live in one world that is shrinking every day.  We can now travel to most anywhere in the world within 24 hours.  If we don’t want a face-to-face conversation, a plethora of web-based solutions exists.  While wonderful and exciting on many fronts, the dilemma for American youth is that they are often ill prepared to be successful in a global environment.  


"While [a connected world is] wonderful and exciting on many fronts, the dilemma for American youth is that they are often ill-prepared to be successful in a global environment."

In his book, The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner paints a picture that shows even America’s brightest and best students, those in AP classes, are dismally unprepared for a world that they are entering.  When taking the same examination, compared to students from other countries, Americans rank in the bottom half of the pool.  Through his research Wagner has identified seven survival skills which include:
  • Critical thinking and Problem Solving
  • Collaboration across Networks and Leadership by Influence
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination
Afterschool programs are a great place to learn and hone these transformational skills that will allow our young people to rightly take their place in the world of tomorrow.  These skills fit into the 3 R’s of afterschool.  They reinforce the importance of relationships—networks, leadership, entrepreneurialism, and effective communication; of relevance—curiosity and imagination, accessing and analyzing information; and rigor through critical thinking and problem solving.   All in all, while afterschool cannot do this work alone, it is a wonderful place for young people to practice the academic skills learned during the instructional day.  

Do these seven survival skills resonate with you?  Which is the most important?

Photo via AP