As I mentioned in my last blog post, Brian Aspinall‘s Code Breaker caused me to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of thinking. Instead of sharing all of these wonders in one blog post, I’ve decided to break them up, to help dig deeper into individual topics that I think are worth exploring more. One of these topics stems from a comment that Brian makes on page 17 of his book.
“With coding skills, students can get good jobs and be competitive in the workforce. Do you see what we’ve done here? Essentially, nothing. We still think the end goal of teaching is simply helping kids get jobs.”
I wonder though, is getting employed the end goal of teaching?
I’m not saying that this is what Brian thinks, but I wonder if this is the thinking that’s out there. Maybe it’s because I teach some of our youngest learners that I’ve never really looked at school in this way … but I haven’t. I hope that as a result of teaching, kids will,
- become better problem solvers.
- become more independent learners.
- question more.
- interact more.
- learn the value of perseverance, and how to persevere through more challenging tasks.
- develop a love of learning, for learning’s sake.
These are skills that may result in employment, and they are also many of the skills that will likely make individuals successful at their jobs. But, I worry if we think about teaching (and school in general) as just a stepping stone to employment. With this mentality, do we lose focus on the kids themselves and the joy that can come from learning something new?
I keep thinking back to a conversation I had with my step-dad days before I left for Nipissing University to begin my undergraduate degree. I worried about future employment opportunities, and he gave me some sage advice: “Go to university because you want to learn something new. You can take a post-graduate degree to help with employment. But university is about the learning.” I took these words to heart. I read more, questioned more, researched more, and spoke more as I got wrapped up in the learning both in, and outside, of classes.
Even now, as an adult and as a teacher, I take courses, read blog posts, read professional books, blog professionally, and get involved in Twitter chats because I’m interested in learning more. I want to better my practice. Some of the courses that I take now might help me out if I wanted to get a different job in the Board, but that’s not why I’m taking them. I’m taking them because I’m genuinely interested in the material, in the course interactions, and in learning something new. As an adult learner I feel this way. Is there equal value in children feeling the same? I worry what message we send about education if we focus too intently on the job prospects that come out of schooling. Is this why kids become wrapped up in grades instead of in growth? While this job focus may not always be the reality, is it enough of one that it’s worth talking about?