Monday, 17 May 2010

Parents, Educators, and The Global Achievement Gap...

Last night, I purchased an impressive book titled "The Global Achievement Gap" by Tony Wagner.  I believe it is a must read for all educators and parents!

Tony Wagner is the Co-Director for the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In the book, he discusses "Seven Survival Skills Our Children Need" for success in the grown-up world...

1.) Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

2.) Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence

3.) Agility and Adaptability

4.) Initiative and Entrepreneurial

5.) Effective Oral and Written Communication

6.) Accessing and Analyzing Information

7.) Curiosity and Imagination

Through interviews and other research, the author high-lights these seven skills as requirements that business leaders are looking for in a workforce for tomorrow.  He then goes on to explain how our current education model does not support that crucial skill development.

Mr. Wagner uses compelling examples of student’s work to demonstrate how our education systems are failing these students.  One example is a book review written by a student in 10th grade, on “Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone”.  At first glance the paper does not seem to have too many glaring mistakes.  He points out that as a 10th grader, the book chosen is far below the appropriate reading level for a high-school sophomore, as the book is intended for ages 9-12.  He admits that although J.K. Rowling's work is an interesting read, the problem with a student reading below the appropriate grade level is that it does not challenge a student’s comprehension and analytical skills.

I have always thought of the importance of reading level within the elementary school years, but this was an eye opening experience for me.  It never crossed my mind regarding the critical comprehension and analytical skills that are developed through high-school reading assignments, to prepare a student for the rigors of college.

He makes recommendations on the changes that need to be made both as parents and as educators, and identifies new and more effective approaches for educating the youth of today.

I have only had the book in my hands for a few hours, yet I am already impressed with the level of research and the evidence presented. I highly recommend this book for anyone concerned about the development of students and tomorrow’s future leaders.