Thursday, August 24, 2017

Business Skills and the Aims of Education

With the start of the new school year comes more rumination on the importance of education and the concomitant discussion on the transactional versus the transformative aspects of educational investment.

On the transactional side we have discussions like this about the sheer mechanics of postsecondary educational investment. What interests me most about this piece - besides the very obvious statement that investment in postsecondary education will result in downstream return on investment - is the discussion about aptitude. The author talks about how STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Math) "programs are job factories, but not everyone has the aptitude. I don't agree. Inclination is one thing; aptitude another. Anyone can learn the skills from these programs.

Equally important is the broader array of skills and competencies within the STEAM+D alary - adding Arts and Design to the mix results in the capacity for what I have called a "full spectrum innovation." And this points to the transformative capacity of education. Others have called this "learning to learn" or soft skills (though there is really nothing soft about them, other than the attempt to define them so that they can be easily digested by the public).

The Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity has a recent blog post discussing the diversity of skills needed for inclusive innovation, referencing the Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel and the value of experiential learning. OCAD University has the development of business skills as a key component of our new Academic Plan, with several initiatives underway to ensure these skills and competencies are taught, learned and practiced through experiential learning. These are the components of innovation literacy.  Stay tuned for updates.