How Integrating Leadership Can Help Accomplish School Goals
If you asked a group of educators what they hoped for their students’ futures, the majority of their answers are likely along the lines of “going to college” or “getting a good job”. Since most of the world would agree that the universal goal of schooling is to prepare youth for the “real world”, they would also agree that these educators’ answers make sense.
So, if everyone agrees with the goal of education, do we also agree that our schools are doing their best to accomplish this goal?
Undoubtedly educators are constantly grinding away to do whatever they can to support their students, but are our schools fundamentally designed in a way that provides students with the skills they need to be successful after Year 12?
Do our schools value the acquisition of cognitive skills as much as they emphasize the importance of academic knowledge?
Do our schools track the social and emotional development of students in the same ways we track test scores?
If you asked that same group of educators those three questions, the majority of their answers are likely along the lines of “no” and “not quite”.
One way schools can refocus on the purpose of their school is through the use of an integrated curriculum.
An integrated curriculum is a curriculum that connects various areas of study to central and unifying concepts. While there are a few different types of integrated curriculums (multidisciplinary, intradisciplinary, etc.) the purpose of an integrated curriculum is to allow students to interact with engaging material and make connections.
These connections can be across subjects, such as utilizing a recently-learned problem-solving math technique to answer a science question, or to a curriculum’s central theme. This central theme can be chosen by a school district or individual school to be emphasized in all areas of study. Integrated curriculum themes have ranged from respect to the environment to college-prep.
Instead of focusing so narrowly on one community value or one possible pathway for our students, the best way to serve all students is to implement an integrated curriculum centred on something that relates to every student’s life — leadership.
The Importance of Leadership
The most simple and straightforward definition of leadership is the ability to motivate or organize others to complete a task. While it can be argued that not all students will hold a position of leadership in their future, the key characteristics of a good leader are essential to the success for all individuals.
At Leaders of Evolution, we believe that leadership is built on a strong sense of self-awareness, the ability to understand and communicate with others, and the competence to plan and problem-solve. Unsurprisingly, these characteristics are almost identical to traits higher education admissions officers and future employers are looking for in candidates.
In a May 2016 article, the Busines Council of Australia (BCA), an industry association of CEOs from over 100 of Australia’s biggest corporations, published a guide to being “work ready”. This compilation brings together advice from the countries largest companies to help future employees be prepared for the hiring process.
Rather than creating a resource for one specific type of employee, this guide is designed to be used by a wide range of audiences. From career counsellors and high school students to people who have been out of work for a while, the “Guide to What Employers Want” is bound to include a bit of advice that is helpful to any reader.
In this guide, the BCA separates what employers are looking for in employees into three buckets: values, behaviours, and skills. While specific technical skills can vary with the position, some key behaviours and values are important to all employers. A few of those that are specifically mentioned include honesty, tolerance, work ethic, adaptability, self-awareness, and resilience.
After looking at this guide, it is clear to see that characteristics of a good leader are sought after by future employers. To best prepare our students for success in the future and help educators and entire school systems accomplish their goals, leadership should be woven throughout our teachings and integrated into our curriculum.
Since leadership skills are so applicable to the lives of students both inside and outside of the classroom, a leadership integrated curriculum can be easily implemented. To assist in the introduction of leadership skills, Leaders of Evolution offers a range of online e-learning programs. Rather than trying to redesign your entire curriculum, leadership skills can be introduced to students through our courses and immediately applied in a variety of learning environments.
Through a year-specific Leaders of Evolution online e-learning program, your students can be taught important characteristics of leadership that apply to their age. This will enable them to make connections between the content of the program and their lives and studies.
Not only will Leaders of Evolution online e-learning programs teach students leadership skills that will help them acquire a job down the road, but there are also many immediate benefits for students and teachers. When given an integrated curriculum that is directly relevant to the lives of students they are more engaged and find more enjoyment in school. This engagement is shown to increase student participation and knowledge retention.
Additionally, since Leaders of Evolution’s online e-learning programs are aligned to the Australian Curriculum, teachers can simultaneously cover key ideas of the Personal and Social Capability while facilitating our programs.
Because leadership skills are so clearly valued by employers its is our duty as educators to teach students these skills and prepare them for life outside the classroom.
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Leaders of Evolution are passionate about education. We expertly design and deliver technology enhanced e-learning courses focused on leadership, social and emotional learning, career readiness and sports coaching for students, teachers, athletes, coaches and the wider community.