Beyond the scope of K.O.C.’s presence in south Florida, research on educational trends worldwide continue to shape and alter the manner in which we teach our children today. Since our last newsletter came out, two important studies have been released that underscore the importance of our work—one study highlighting the importance of courses that focus on career readiness, the other pointing to the crucial role of “soft skills” in academic and professional success.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute for Advancing Educational Excellence has always been committed to improving the lives of children in America by focusing on what happens in the classroom and researching how it can be changed. One of their most recent pieces, by University of Connecticut’s Shaun Dougherty, shows that Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses have long-standing effects on a child’s lifetime professional outcomes when taught in high school. CTE courses focus on practical uses of typical classes like math, english, and science, and attempt to show students how the things learned in these classes can be applied to real-life scenarios. Too often compared to vocational education, Dougherty showed that CTE courses do not have a negative effect on how many students attend 4-year universities, but rather students who enter CTE courses are just as likely to attend these colleges. Additionally, he showed that students who took CTE courses in high school were more likely to graduate high school, enter a 2-year university, find a job, and be better paid for their work when compared to those offered no CTE curriculum. It would be difficult to find a more ringing endorsement of our work here at K.O.C.
While the Fordham Institute’s report is admirable for its rigor and specificity in demonstrating the importance of our mission, The Brookings Institute’s paper, “Hard Thinking on Soft Skills”, points to the importance of future study in how to develop the “soft skills” necessary for academic and professional success. While it is well known and empirically proven that character traits and interpersonal skills such as resilience, grit, ability to collaborate, self-awareness, and empathy are incredibly important for success of all kinds, few schools or programs have managed to create a process for developing these skills in a systematic, measurable way. Cultivating such skills in our students is a fundamental part of the K.O.C. mission, reflected by the exercises in self-reflection and empathy infused throughout our curriculum. As we focus on crafting assessments and refining lessons, we will do so with this research void in mind—we hope that our efforts will advance this underdeveloped but crucial field.
You can read each of these articles by following the links below