Magazine article Techniques

An Interview with Willard Daggett: ACTE's Annual Convention and Career Tech Expo Is Fast Approaching. This Professional Development and Networking Event Will Be Held December 4-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. One of the Presenters ACTE Will Be Bringing to You Is Willard Daggett, President of the International Center for Leadership in Education

Magazine article Techniques

An Interview with Willard Daggett: ACTE's Annual Convention and Career Tech Expo Is Fast Approaching. This Professional Development and Networking Event Will Be Held December 4-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. One of the Presenters ACTE Will Be Bringing to You Is Willard Daggett, President of the International Center for Leadership in Education

Article excerpt

ACTE: So what are the latest education and workforce trends that your projects and studies have uncovered?

WD: Well, the most overriding finding is that the academic skills in the workplace today, even for entry-level jobs, have actually surpassed the academic skills of higher education. And that's an issue that is very hard for academic educators to understand and, candidly, it's also hard for career and technical education (CTE) teachers to understand. What has happened is that technology is pushing us to higher skills and we understand that in the STEM occupations; but let's just go to all occupations. The reading level for entry-level workers today--because they have to read a manual--is substantively higher than the reading requirements in virtually any academic course you'll take in high school or in college. And not only are the reading skills higher, but if the worker cannot read the materials, the consequences are huge. I mean, do you want an auto technician who's going to put brakes on your car who can't read the manual? Do you want an electrician wiring your house who can't read the manual? Do you want a home health aide--as happened in my family--administering drugs to your disabled daughter who can't read the prescription drug manual and gets it substantively wrong? The human consequences are gigantic.

ACTE: That sounds like the opposite of the reputation that postsecondary has versus CTE.

WD: It absolutely is. It's probably the most substantive change educationally that has happened in my professional career.

Who should be coming into the program and what the program should be teaching is substantively different now in the 21st century. You know, we hear a lot of this discussion about 21st century skills. And sometimes I think we think that means simply problem solving, decision making, collaboration, communication skills. And, indeed, it means all of that. But 21st century skills for the workplace are actually a higher and different set of math, science and language arts standards than we ever had to teach when I began my career in the '70s teaching. It's fundamentally different.

ACTE: So what should education look like to actually support these 21st century skills?

WD: Well, what we have to come up with is a way to address simultaneously academic rigor and relevance. Back in the early '90s, I created this framework called the Rigor and Relevance Framework, which a lot of groups across the country have picked up. But it's a term often discussed but seldom understood. And I think what we've got to do is somehow get people to really comprehend it ... What we need to do is increasingly drive academics higher and higher. But, more importantly, make sure that every academic that we teach is anchored in real-world applications.

ACTE: Now earlier you mentioned STEM--science, technology, engineering and math education. Is that going to be the most important focus of education in the future?

WD: No, I think it's going to be one of the important focuses. I think it's first out of the box here, but I think as you move down track and look into the 21st century and where technology is moving us, the skills that are going to separate Americans in terms of a global competition from other nations are areas like design, creativity, innovation. And that is not just STEM, that includes the arts, that includes virtually all application.

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When you really strip STEM down to its most basic level, what it is is the application of academics to science and technology examples that kids will experience in post-school experiences. …

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