“The ties that bind us are stronger than the occasional stresses that separate us.” – General Colin Powell.
Last week, I was the speaker at the regular meeting of the Jeffco Republican Men’s Club. Thanks to organizer Fred Holden for helping coordinate my attendance and the warm welcome I received at the meeting.
Rather than just talk at the group, I started with a question which will be familiar to regular readers of this blog: What is your profile of an ideal graduate? With what skills, abilities, and knowledge should Jeffco grads leave our schools?
I gave them several minutes to talk with each other, and then we shared out discussions from tables. Here is my summary of their list of what graduates need:
- Critical thinking skills
- Investigative skills
- Ability to ask tough questions
- Knowledge of the basic principles of science
- Ability to pursue their passions
- Ability to get a job, and earn a decent living
- A desire to keep learning, throughout life
- The ability to be kind to others
- To be cared for in school, loved
- Understand key historical events and their context
- A command of the English language
- Opportunities to explore vocational or career/technical options
- Strong reading skills
- Pride in American values, understanding their importance at home and globally
In my relatively short time in Jeffco (and in my many years as an educator), I’ve probably asked this question of hundreds of people. You can even read the responses of some Jeffco folks here, as well as my own thinking on the question.
It occurs to me that the list that the Jeffco Republican Men’s Club came up with is not all that radically different than what might emerge from any group of whom you asked this question.
When it comes right down to it, what we want for our kids – regardless of our political stripes – is not all that different. Of course, we argue a great deal about the best path toward that end, and which elements should be prioritized over other things.
But, we should also recognize that our foundations and end goals are remarkably similar – and perhaps we are closer to our neighbors than we sometimes think.