How would you describe “Profile of a Graduate”? A group of “stakeholders” from around the state are tackling that very subject. This team includes folks in education, business/industry, government, elected officials and parents.

Yes, in case you missed it in the Cody Enterprise (Jan. 22), the Wyoming State Board of Education (SBE) has formed this group to study this “profile of a Wyoming high school graduate.” We can now add our two-cents worth as the team is collecting public input in the first phase of the project.

Profile of a graduate is “intended to define the knowledge, skills and attributes students should have when they graduate from high school.”

Our son, Eric, has been teaching high school computer science and business for more than 20 years. He has long said that such initiatives about education come and go. There’s always another study or another philosophy popping up.

I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Education is so dynamic; what works this year may not work even a year from now. Witness how COVID-19 upended the traditional classroom. Plus, as a senior looking back on more than 60 years of living, what a high school graduate needs today is far – indeed, very far – from what my fellow classmates and I needed in 1971.

Just as I suspected, the internet is chock full of individuals and groups asking the question, “What should a high school graduate know and be able to do?”

For example, the website, portraitofagraduate.org, offers suggestions to school districts across the country on the subject. It asks three questions to get the ball rolling: What are the hopes, aspirations and dreams we have for students? What are the skills and mindsets that our children need to succeed in this rapidly changing and complex world? How do the answers to the first two questions translate into how we design learning experiences in our schools?

For our state, “The purpose of the project is to take a step back and gather the wisdom and perspectives of all of the education stakeholders in determining what an ideal K-12 system should produce in terms of a Wyoming graduate,” said SBE Chairman Ryan Fuhrman. “We, as the State Board, want to make sure that our work and decisions align with the ideals of our state.”

Already, one reader of the Enterprise story suggests, “Teach them to balance a checkbook; teach them how money and the banking system works; and finally, instill in them an entrepreneurial spirit.”

That entrepreneurial spirit is an interesting observation. In a Sept. 6, 2018, Forbes magazine article, educator Tom Vander Ark writes, “Because most high school graduates will enter the freelance/gig economy or manage their careers as a series of projects, everyone will be an entrepreneur in the new economy. Taking initiative to spot opportunity, pursue partnerships and deliver value will be critical for success.”

For me, academics certainly plays a role, as do basic life skills. However, in my experience individuals in the workplace often fail because they simply “don’t play well with others.” Learning how to get along with others, and to defer to those who know more than I do, is vital.

To add your opinion, visit the Wyoming Profile of a Graduate project at edu.wyoming.gov/board.

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