A recent Report Shows US Students’ Skills Falling Behind Others. Much about this is not news. But, several interesting points are made in the article:
“Google has found it is increasingly hiring people without college degrees because the signal of the credential is no longer as clear as it used to be that someone is job ready”
I've made this argument before myself. The college degree used to be a signal for a set of skills that the graduate had. Today, not so much. What students have to do to get a degree is not closely related to the kinds of skills they need. All students have to do is pass exams, write papers, and other closely guided tasks which leave little leeway for failure, ambiguity, or risk. For the ones who make it through this, it does not insure problem solving or critical thinking skills.
"Students have had decisions made for them instead of having to make their own decisions. With their hands being held throughout the college process, they haven’t had the experience to learn these real world skills."
One of the root causes of this is a lack of trust. Colleges don't trust students to be able to learn, engage in trial and error, and succeed without copious amounts of hand-holding.
Worse, that this though is that colleges can't trust students. They are not allowed because of the many rules and regulations they have to comply with to become accredited. These rules and regulations are a large part of the reason why students have decisions made for them.
As educators, we have to write legal contract length syllabi for our students, we have to attach rubrics to every assignment and thoroughly document learning outcomes. The result: students become good at following these rubrics and little else.
I am hopeful that as the growing population of unschoolers comes of college age that they will reject this model of learning. After all, they have never been in a situation where they have had their hand held throughout their learning. They have been trusted to learn on their own, follow their interests, dig deeper into topics, and engage in real world problem solving.
Google already recognizes that students can do these things without a college degree. Others will surely follow and take an interest in hiring the growing population of students who are actually learning without schooling.
Schools, on the other hand, will continue to deny what is happening, look for solutions in the wrong places, continue to demand documentation, assessment, rubrics, and hand holding. And continue to charge high prices for poor results. How long will that last?