Did you know that 38 percent of accidents in the state of North Carolina result from alcohol? If you didn’t know this, and missed out on enough similar questions, then you
would fail the driver’s test in the state of North Carolina, regardless of how long you have been driving or how flawless your driving record is. (Fortunately I memorized this useless fact and passed the test which I was obliged to take despite the fact that I had been driving a car in Europe for several years, another blog topic all together).
Under normal circumstances, I would have memorized this fact long enough to regurgitate it on a test and then let it fall by the wayside. As I look back on my educational career, this was true in many classes. I trust that you can also reflect on similar instances.
I didn’t forget this North Carolina alcohol and traffic accident question because it annoyed me so much and I thought it would make a good blog topic. In a bizarre way, I am actually grateful that I took this test and encountered this question as it helped me become contemplative about test taking and education, particularly as it relates to communications.
I am delighted to see that there has been much discussion of late about education reform in the US. Tom Friendman and Michael Mandelbaum have a great chapter in their book “That Used to Be Us” about about education reform. In it, I read about the work of Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which emphasizes not only the 3 Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) but also the 4 Cs: collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity. I would add to that in addition to these 7 seven words, we also need to instill a global mindset. We live in a globalized world – business opportunities come from all corners of the earth, as do threats and competition. Without a global mindset, how can we really compete?
Test taking does have its place in certain areas, particularly to notch down the 3 Rs. But to focus on the 4 Cs plus the global mindset, especially in the communications field itself, there must be an emphasis on experiential learning. You don’t become a prolific writer by memorizing stats nor do you train yourself to learn and communicate on social media by regurgitating formulas on how to use hashtags. You need to experience it.
Students need to experience communications, whether they go into the field or just use communications for whatever career they go down and for their everyday life. In addition, those in organizations have a great opportunity to truly experience communications – both for themselves individually and their teams. I hope this blog and will play a role, in whatever small way, in that experience.