Every vocation is different, and each requires its own unique training, whether you are a doctor or plumber, teacher or graphic designer. Not every career requires coding skills, or skills related to difficult computer technology usage. Not every career requires typing skills or research skills. Daily life; however, is a little different. Lately, colleagues and I have entered into conversation surrounding what students REALLY need to know when it comes to computers, once they leave our academic nest to the next step of their lives.
A lot of discussion about students and technology seems to be geared towards what skills they required when they enter the workforce, but I would argue that any and every job
(for the most part) will and should offer specific training for the technology required of its skilled workers. Universities and colleges offer beginner computers courses, and other introductory courses that are vital to specific careers. I don’t believe that we need to necessarily prepare students for specific careers in the K-12 system (unless of course they are enrolled in those amazing apprenticeship programs!), but rather prepare them for a lifetime of learning, of critical and creative thinking, and of social responsibility. I feel strongly that BC’s new curriculum, specifically the Core Competencies, truly embody what a BC graduate should have in their toolkit when they leave our system for the workforce or into post-secondary training. Should students know how to use technology? Absolutely. They should know how to use it responsibly, how not to spend 20 hours a day playing games, how to be respectful, how to be appropriate.
Students should also know how to use storage programs, like Google Docs, or iCloud…or, as simple as it seems: adding an attachment to an email. Students don’t need to know Photoshop, or how to make games. They don’t need to know Minecraft, or how to make websites. They need to know how to critical examine content found online, how to cull through the millions of hits from Google for real, factual information. They don’t need to know how to code robots, they need to know how to express their opinions and be good digital citizens. I am not saying that students SHOULDN’T be using photoshop, or making games, or learning robotics–I’m saying that it’s important not to get caught up in those things without considering what real skills our graduates should be leaving our doors with.