Thursday, August 24, 2006

Banish the term "drop-out"

The whole concept of school "drop out" has "got to go. It is stupid, retrogressive and cruel. Imagine wearing that label for a lifetime! That's precisely what we condemn far too many young Canadians to do, and only because they don't fit into the alarmingly rigid and ineffective system we call public education in Canada. Bright lights in Ottawa are still funding Drop Out Studies while the learning environment changes around them.

As a futurist, I am committed to the notion that we need to manage learning in a whole different way. We must reduce the reliance on credentials - like highschool graduation and university degrees - and increase the use of competency profiles in, e.g., ePortfolio form. When young people choose to leave school, they should be helped to begin a lifelong learning portfolio where they are encouraged to reflect on and record their learning from experiences, travel, work, hard knocks, good fortune. Instead, then, of telling them - and employers and society at large - about their shortcomings and failures, they could be telling us all the things they Do Know and Can Do.

It's called Human Capital Management, and we in Canada can no longer squander our human capital by sidelining everyone who does have a standard credential which, as the OECD says, is a temporary and inaccurate proxy for knowledge, skills and abilities. An ePortfolio can and should become an alternative to credentials for each and every Canadian.

The term Drop Out is education discrimination. We speak out against racial and gender discrimination, why not education discrimination?