The Future of Higher Education: What the Experts Agree on and What it Means to Parents

I am so happy to be here and so delighted to have you join me on this journey!

I recently attended the CT Forum in Hartford, CT. Guest panelists included Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education; Freeman Hrabrowski, Transformative University Professor; and Daphne Koller, Founder and President of Coursera, an online education platform. It was a very lively and exciting discussion about what America needs to develop in order to compete globally.

As a psychologist and a parent, I always listen to these types of discussions with an ear towards two things: 1) what can psychologists do to help propel problems towards solutions? And 2) how does this information drive the direction of my parenting guidance to my clients and my two children?

The following are some key points distilled from the discussion:

1) The current model of education in America is antiquated and needs innovation. We no longer need to teach kids knowledge and facts; this information is now readily accessible. What does need to be taught are critical thinking skills; how to gather information, how to understand if the information truthful, how to think independently, how to think deeply, how to ask great questions, and how to create hypotheses and experiments.

2) The “one size fits all of education” needs to change.  We need to look at hybrid systems of education that has more equal access to all people in America. This would look more like some online courses, some courses at the university campuses, and some work in the real world.

3) One of the most interesting questions asked was if someone on the panel could illustrate an international example of a great education system. Daphne Koller stepped in and explained that Singapore is a fifty year old, extremely multi-national country with no natural resources. Singapore has financially and emotionally valued education and human capital above all else. Students are in school for longer days and rigorously challenged and this has paid off in spades for this country.

What you can do as a parent:

1) Praise kids for effort and grit. Don’t praise kids because they were smart or for specific grades,

2) Value education always- this is the key to greatness for our children and our country.

3) Ask kids when they get home- “Did you ask a great question today?”

4) Expose your children to different perspectives; be curious about why someone might think differently than yourself.

5) Allow your kids to fail, failure brings them closer to innovation and develops grit.

6) Teach kids to ask open-ended questions.

7) If your kids are going to college, take a look at the outcomes- specifically, graduation rates of that college. Many colleges will take lots of kids, but don’t work with them to help them actually graduate college. Look for colleges that have internships that will provide kids will networks and real- world experience.

8) Teach kids to embrace the struggle- the grit- joy and happiness grow out of grit.

I hope this information opened up a new perspective for you- Lets continue our conversation!  Dr.K

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