One of the most important things I learned in school was to befriend the smartest person in the classroom. In elementary and high school, that was Anthony. In college, it was Rochelle. When I started my M.A. in Education around 10 years ago, there was George.
He was quite an unassuming character at first, but when he was called to answer a question, he showed an impressive depth and breadth of knowledge, citing information that was beyond the material given to us. To this day, I continue referring to him as David Hume’s neighbor, as he would sometimes talk about this long-dead philosopher as if he were his best friend.
Anyway, George continues to be an educator while I have gone on to other pursuits. Yet, I still enjoy reading his many insights about education as he posts them on his Facebook wall. Here is a recent message that he gave to his students which he has given me permission to reprint (as long as I mention him and David Hume in the same sentence). Also, they are not really commandments. I just needed a cool title for this article:
- There are many real gaps between industry practice and educational practices. There are also gaps between what your parents want and what you want. And there are gaps between what the school is saying and what it is really doing, between what it wants to do (what the vision and mission say), and what the school is really doing (through their teachers). There are gaps between the industry and the economy, between classroom and practice. In short, only 1% or even less is relevant.
- We are producing graduates who want to be bosses but industry has no room for them at the moment. You did not study to end up as a clerk, but that is what is available now. You don’t want to be audit assistant, but that’s what’s there. Why are you being choosy? The problem is that you are living in a colored world, painted by people who don’t know what is really going on. Wake up!
- Educators don’t know what is going on in industry. We are at least trying to narrow the gap, but a lot of teachers would teach the same subject matter over and over again for the past 20 years, using books that were printed 20 years ago or even in the 1950s.
- Teachers teach for the test. They worry that their students will not pass the board exams. But when we asked the industry bosses, they said they don’t care so much about the board exams. They need actual skills, not papers.
- We choose programs that are oversubscribed – HRM, IT, Business. Yet what does industry around us need that they have difficulty finding? – geodetic engineers, forklift operators, carpenters. We are not filling the needs of industry. And don’t say TESDA, they kinda…you know what i mean.
- We are a consumer economy. We only want to study, to be able to graduate, and finally, to be able to buy the things we want, someday. But that will leave you guys employees all your lives. Where is production there? What do we want to do? To build cars, or build the industry of building cars? We always choose the former. Hence, we fall behind.
- We are producing graduates who are individualistic – who compete against each other for grades. No wonder they tend to bring that attitude in industry. But teamwork is what is really necessary. I have been saying this for a long time, that I want to give open-notes exams. Because in real life, you open your notes. I want to give group exams, because you don’t do problems in life on your own. You will be forced to work with people who aren’t your friends, and whom you don’t like. It is not show friends, it is show business.
- Our exams are pathetic at times. They do not prepare the students to real life scenarios. They don’t make them critically think. They don’t make them speak business English. These two are the top 2 skills and competencies they need in industry.
- You should not be a diva, but a team player. They do not need Michael Jordans and Kobe Bryants. You should have social skills. You cannot be a solo performer. You will never ever make it if you don’t hone your social skills. You develop that through extra curricular activities in school. Be active in student groups. Volunteer from time to time.
- Finally, and most importantly, you should develop leadership skills. You can’t do it overnight. You only do it through inches and inches of conquering yourself, who you are, eliminating the things that make you weak, and highlighting on the things you are very good at.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.