Templeton Blog

Degrees or Skills? Which Make Students “Most Likely to Succeed?”

[fa icon="calendar"] 4/25/19 8:13 AM / by Temp Keller

Temp Keller

screentimeBTAAs I often joke with friends, it always feels like a decisive moment in education. And alas, education tends to evolve at a glacial pace.

Here are some much posed questions in education these days:  what does it mean for a student to be successful? what does it mean for any person to be successful? who really is most likely to succeed? Do students need skills or credentialing in order to thrive long-term?

The ensuing debate makes it seem like a defining moment in education.

For quite some time now, many have been debating the value of college degrees and viability of the traditional college business model as a whole in the 21st century. Recent scandals in the world of college admissions have made these debates all the more pressing.

Many Parents Feel Torn Between Skills and Degrees

As educators, we are paying attention to the questions, the humanity, and the uncertainty of parents at this decisive moment:

  • “Do I want him to do well on the SAT?  Why?  To get into college?  Well, why?  I’ve had to really reexamine all of those things—and why do I want all the things that I want for him?  Because it’s not like I’m only trying to get him into an Ivy League school or something.  I’m really not.  I want him to be happy.  But I also don’t want him to have any doors closed.”
  • “As I consider the kind of education I want for my own daughter, how do I predict what will give her the best shot at future happiness?  At being successful—whatever that means?”

What Are the Good Questions?

One of our fundamental beliefs at Templeton Academy is that asking good questions is far more important than regurgitating correct answers. We need to rise above providing standard, ideological education answers and instead ask some of this moment's most important questions about education, schooling, teaching, and learning:

  • Over 100 years ago the United States went from one-room schoolhouses to the robust, industrial model we have now. It was a transformation that was nothing short of miraculous. Perhaps it's time for another change?
  • Right now we are attempting to educate a generation of kids who will work in jobs that have not been invented yet.   They will be called on to solve problems in a world so complex we can’t even imagine it.  How do you design a school system that prepares kids for that?
  • While turning students into better collaborators, or having them think more critically might seem like a very good idea, won't changing a student's approach to education this radically inhibit their ability to get into a good college? How do you teach students how to prepare for college in high school?

Happiness, Skill, and Success Can All Go Hand-in-Hand 

I for one feel that this is a very appropriate moment to reiterate what we believe:

So whether success to you as a parent is for your child to get into a highly selective college, become highly skilled, and/or be happy, we believe that this does not need to be an either/or.

We believe that the straightest line to all three is figuring out what motivates your child to love learning, developing a project as unique as they are, and supporting them as they work to change the world.

Is your family considering applying to join the Templeton Academy community in DC or Nashville? It's not too late! Check out our explanatory guide for all the information you need, from inquiry through application.

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Editor's note: This blog, by Templeton Academy Co-founder and Director John Templeton (Temp) Keller, was adapted and updated from an article that originally appeared in the Templeton Learning blog March 20, 2015.

Topics: parents and education, lifelong learning

Temp Keller

About Temp Keller

John Templeton (Temp) Keller is the Co-founder and CEO of Templeton Learning and Co-founder and President of Templeton Academy. Temp also serves on the boards of the Loomis Chaffee School, Austin Achieve Public Schools and the African Leadership Academy. He received his B.A. from Princeton University and his M.B.A. from The University of Chicago.

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