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Education In America

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Education In America Authors: Darrah Deal, Student Lance, David Miller, David Miller, Chris Pentago

Related Topics: Education 2.0 Journal, Education In America, Education Innovation Journal

Article

Older Student Finds College A Challenge

Adapting is essential in keeping your job

Dear Dr. Fournier:

Your columns ring very close to home. I have worked very hard since I graduated from college. I have a wife and two children and what I thought was a great job. Each day, I thought I was getting closer to the top of the corporate ladder. I have been willing to do everything necessary in order to get there.

Recently, I began to realize that kids straight out of college were suddenly my peers. They were at my level without having to do all the extra work and overtime hours I did to get where I am. As if that were not enough, I was told it was in my best interest to go back to college for an advanced degree. It's been the worst experience. I'm not doing well even though I read everything, take good notes and reread. I'm not making good grades and I don't feel I'm getting anywhere. I feel desperate. Do you have any advice?

Dan T.
Phoenix, AZ

Dear Dan:

In recent years, I've seen an increase in letters from adult workers asking for my advice and help because they have discovered that working hard is no longer a guarantee of success nor will it guarantee that they will be able to keep their jobs.

This is evidenced in corporate layoffs and downsizings we seem to read about or hear about from news outlets each day. When the economy contracts, it's an opportunity for a company to "separate the wheat from the chaff," meaning that companies will keep the creative, continual learners and let the hard working, loyal ones go.

While this may not seem fair to those educated in the industrial era schools we are still operating in this country (which is almost all of our public and private K-12 schools), it is the reality.

The industrial era format of our school system is still teaching the "work hard" mantra. As a result, people are still shocked when they are told to go back to school for more learning, or they are downsized because they do not have self-development skills - a concept not being taught in our antiquated, industrial era dinosaurs we call the U.S. School System.

ASSESSMENT

We - people of all nations - are well into a period of global economic competition, one that has been in full-force for over two decades.

U.S. companies can no longer survive by maintaining business as usual. Just look at the current economic competition we have from China, India, Brazil and other countries from around the world and you will see what I mean.

As such, U.S. workers can no longer expect to work their way up the corporate ladder through mere longevity. Instead, corporations must adapt to competition and the changing workplace by finding and nurturing employees who are capable of self-development. These employees must recognize that their future no longer lies in performing the same job for the next 30 years.

The new workplace needs employees who can embrace change with self-respect, who have the desire to continually improve, and who can direct their own self-improvement. The only security in this "new" workplace is the insecurity of change. Employees who learn to adapt to change can ensure success not just by working hard, but by working smart.

Some people have labeled the process "life-long learning," but I don't believe the term fully explains the evolution of adapting what we have learned to fit in the constantly changing workplace.

To succeed in the workforce we must become enterprising learners who are defined as "marked by an independent, energetic spirit and by a readiness to undertake or experiment."

WHAT TO DO

Whatever your corporate title, forget it. Titles are given to people to tell them what they are in charge of. In the workforce of the future, being in control will cease to be a skill that provides job security.

The second step is to begin using a new vocabulary.

Here are three thoughts to help you lay your foundation as you become an "enterprising learner."

• "I am part of the Transitional Generation. I moved up the ladder by showing how well I can control people and processes. But I now must transition away from controlling others and enable them to control themselves. The future demands that everyone be thinking, contributing and collaborating if we are to survive and prosper."

• "As I learn, my company learns. An organization has no more brains than that of its workers. As I go back to school, I am not in the classroom to mimic the teacher's brain but to think, learn and create with knowledge. Going back to school is an opportunity to awaken myself and to enter into enterprising learning."

• "As I begin to create new ideas, I need to help others take risks with their creative thinking. As we all invent, the company will benefit."

As members of the Transitional Generation, we must let go of the paralyzing ideas of the past as we recognize the needs of the future.

Think of the workplace as a cross¬roads.

You may take the comfortable path by continuing the "working hard" attitude of the past, or you may take the un-charted road to a future of working smart.

More Stories By Dr. Yvonne Fournier

Dr. Yvonne Fournier is Founder and President of Fournier Learning Strategies. Her column, "Hassle-Free Homework" was published by the Scripps Howard News Service for 20 years. She has been a pharmacist, public health administrator, demographer and entrepreneur. Dr. Fournier, arguably one of the most prolific of educators and child advocates in America today, has followed her own roadmap, calling not just for change or improvement in education but for an entirely new model.

She remains one of the most controversial opponents of the current education system in America.