For much of my life, the tenuous connection between education and work appeared theoretical at best.
That’s changing, at least in Carson City, and perhaps throughout Nevada and the nation. From this columnist’s up close and almost personal perspective, encouraging signs appear on the march in this state capital and environs. But let’s not leave the problem behind so quickly. Let’s immerse ourselves briefly in the relatively recent unreality of faux efforts to train or educate that often missed the mark, to say nothing of the point.
“Most educators would continue to lecture on navigation while the ship is going down,” said James H. Boren, humorist, businessman, teacher, scholar and a 1992 tongue-in-cheek presidential candidate who died in 2010. Boren ran for president representing the Apathy Party of America almost a quarter century back. His send-up slogan? “I have what it takes to take what you’ve got.”
Clearly this was a man who understood some of the 20th century’s problems. But Boren’s blasts aside, what is it that makes yours truly, the musemeister of the political, governmental and commercial nexus, think things look better in this 15th year of the 21st century? Well, evidence is close at hand.
Operation “Jump Start” pairs Western Nevada College (WNC) and area high schools, including Carson High, so secondary school seniors can take college-level courses. Not only academic track students are involved; those with English as their second language and folks headed for construction or industrial technology employment are getting in on it.
The programs called “Nevada’s Working Capital” and “On-Line and On-Time” utilize Carson City’s library personnel and technology, working with partners, to provide hands-on training and experience. The former will help late teens and young adults get a key credential for industrial jobs by working with WNC and manufacturers; the latter uses library tech to improve Internet and media skills of younger high school pupils.
The Hop and Mae Adams Foundation has a program encouraging entrepreneurial skills via E-clubs and through an E-curriculum, instilling critical thinking capabilities in students or those at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Nevada.
On another level, Carson City’s Health and Human Services, along with the Chamber of Commerce, will hold a sixth job fair Friday afternoon to help get people on the first rung or back on the ladder of employment. A continual underpinning of this effort is pre-job fair training in the crucial job-securing skills necessary to parlay background strengths into actual jobs that can lead to escalating opportunities.
Nevada’s capital is a great places for all this. A key linkage is making sure education or training relates to reality, the future, and the quickly evolving work world. That means training must stress critical thinking, problem solving, knowing how things come apart and go back together, and understanding that brain, hand, tool and end-product operate along a continuum that must be integrated.
G. B. Shaw, 19th and 20th century writer and Nobel Prize winner who was a co-founder of the London School of Economics, once made a pertinent observation: “A child only educated at school is an uneducated one.”