Survival Skill #2

Back to Tony Wagner's book, The Global Achievement Gap and some thoughts. Networking

The Second Survival Skill: Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by influence.

 So if we need to be able to collaborate across virtual networks, what does that mean to the classroom? Wagner quotes Annmarie Neal from Cisco, saying: "It's  hard for people in the U.S. to work globally because they are so used to being in control. It's hard for many to let go and trust people to do the work, to truly empower people to achieve results, not just to complete tasks…"
When students work individually rather than in teams, they are used to determining the finished product themselves–there is no need to rely on others or use the skill of "leading by influence." This skill is "how citizens make change today in their local communities–by trying to influence diverse groups and then creating alliances of groups who work together toward a common goal."
He says we need young people who can "work effectively with others and understand and respect differences–not just in our own country but around the world."
    However, what keeps holding me back here is, as he says,  the need to shape students into workers…not something independent schools have given much thought to. Our emphasis has been college preparation, establishing courses with intellectual stimulation and rigor–with little concern, frankly, to what kind of "worker" the school is producing.
    Yet, the world has changed. Who could have imagined General Motors near collapse, newspapers across the globe shutting down, major businesses in banking, insurance, and electronics closing their doors.
Peter Gow addresses some of those concerns in a fine post here, where he talks about what makes a great curriculum.

Intellectually challenging and relevant–to the
individual needs as well as the lives of students–seem fundamental to
me as characteristics of excellent curriculum.

Wagner says "the portrait of the New world of Work that is emerging is a complex one." Indeed. And this makes our job as teachers developing curriculum even more challenging.

image uploaded on January 9, 2005
by phrenologist