Historically, high schools have treated college readiness as a distinct and separate track than career readiness which was often referred to as ‘vocational education.’ Furthermore, I think it could be argued there was an understood (although not often stated) premise that vocational education was a less desirable path and was really there as an option for ‘those kids’ who weren’t college material.
Today, we find ourselves challenged to graduate ALL students ‘college and career ready.’ I would argue, we have a better idea of what it means to be ‘college ready’ than we do what it means to be ‘career ready.’ Whether or not high schools are adequately preparing students for success in college can be argued, but the point is, we have a pretty good idea what is required.
The elusive piece in mind is what it means to be ‘career ready.’ While I’ve argued in the past, college readiness is not necessarily the same thing as being career ready, I’m willing to concede there is likely a point of intersection that is common to both. In other words, while the specific prerequisite academic requirements vary greatly depending on the field of study and the institution at which one plans to study after high school, there are probably a common set of cross-disciplinary skills that serve all students regardless of their post-secondary path.
These cross-disciplinary common practices are not specific to any particular academic content area. They are critical elements for success in all aspects of life, not just further education. I believe the point of intersection can best be summed up as the 16 thinking dispositions that Dr. Art Costa refers to as “Habits of Mind.” They can be infused in any learning opportunity, are critical for life success and they include:
2 Managing impulsivity
3 Listening with understanding and empathy
4 Thinking flexibility
5 Thinking about your thinking (metacognition)
6 Striving for accuracy
7 Questioning and problem posing
8 Applying past knowledge to new situations
9 Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
10 Gather data through all senses
11 Creating, imagining and innovation
12 Responding with wonderment and awe
13 Responsible risk taking
14 Finding humor
15 Thinking interdependently
16 Continuous learning
The question then is– “What changes in current educational practices/structures need to take place across the nation to ensure all students leave our doors armed for success?”