In a day and age when knowledge is easily obtainable by grabbing your smartphone from your pocket, and information learned may be outdated two minutes after a student graduates, employers care less about facts and more about whether a graduate can continue to learn over time and solve complex problems.
It’s not that content knowledge is not important. But it is not the end all, be all. Tony Wagner, an expert in residence at Harvard’s Innovation Lab, and a thought leader I have referred to on several occasions, stated at the recent Next New World Conference, “Content knowledge has to be engaging to kids. If kids aren’t motivated, you can pour content knowledge into their heads and it comes right out the other ear.” Kids need critical thinking and communication skills, and, above all, they need to be creative problem solvers.
Wagner advocates that students need authentic, real world experiences and that through project-based learning “students are learning many more real skills, as well as content knowledge.”
More than a third of our students are not yet entering the workforce with these critical skills. In a 2013-2014 Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus exam administered by the Council for Aid to Education, 40 percent of college students graduated without the complex reasoning skills required to manage the work of an educated white-collar workforce.
Parents, and everyone who cares about our children’s future, must take note. Countless educators, thought-leaders and business leaders have been arguing, and even pleading for years, that the American education system must do a better job of preparing our students to meet the ever changing and complex issues of the 21st century. “The problem is not to get incrementally better with our current education system, the problem is to reimagine it.” Said Tony Wagner.
At Hillel we are committed to providing the education children need for this century. In fact, if schools look and teach the same way they did when you went to school, something is seriously wrong.
It is time to reimagine schools and what learning looks like in today’s schools. Hillel is a school that is at the forefront of reimaging schools as we move towards more project-based learning and innovation, while redesigning spaces that create the appropriate environment and promotes the essential skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.
We know it is our obligation to create an educational environment that is truly best for today’s children. And we know that we have an unparalleled learning environment for our children. For when you combine the educational experiences we are creating at Hillel with a rich, deep and meaningful Jewish education to ground children with a strong identity and moral compass, we really have what no other school can offer Jewish children in the Detroit area. While we are proud of and excited with our progress, we know there is still much work to be done. With parents as our partners, we will go from strength to strength!