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Everyone is talking about the importance for our students being college and career ready. We couldn’t agree more. As educators, we naturally focus on the college part. But what about the career part? All students will eventually jump on the career path whether they seek employment right after high school or look for jobs after college. What skills will career-minded students need?

Why Learnership? Why Now?

The future, noted columnist and three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize Thomas L. Friedman says, isn’t about what we know. “Nobody cares what you know, because the Google machine knows everything,” he said. Rather, he argued, the future is about what we can do with what we know.

We all know that we live in a world that is changing at a faster rate than ever before. Friedman has been following this global change for the past years, including its impact on education.

He believes,

“The notion that we can go to college for four years and then spend that knowledge for the next 30 is over. If you want to be a lifelong employee anywhere today, you have to be a lifelong learner.

And that means: More is now on you. And that means self-motivation to learn and keep learning becomes the most important life skill.”

The term we at Elevated Achievement Group use to define “self-motivation to learn and keep learning” is learnership. Learnership is the combination of the words learner and ownership. Learner is defined as, “a person who is learning a subject or skill.” The suffix –ship is defined as, “something showing, exhibiting, or embodying a quality or state.”

Therefore, learnership is embodying the elevation of learning to learner ownership. Someone who has true learnership is one who self-directs, self-evaluates, self-reflects, and self-controls their own learning.

And this is exactly what employers are looking for.

The Skill for the 21st Century

Macro photo of tooth wheel mechanism with CAREER, STRATEGY, MOTIVATION, PLAN and SKILL letters imprinted on metal surface

© Shutterstock/EtiAmmos

Today, many Human Resource professionals recognize that they are no longer hiring people who already know how to do a job. The jobs and the skills required to do them are changing too quickly. HR personnel recognize that a large part of their job is to train people to do the job they were hired for. If that’s the case, what do they look for when hiring someone? What skills are they demanding? What qualities propel a candidate to the front of the line?

The skill that is looked for, demanded, and pushes someone ahead is learnership.

Learnership is the ability to recognize when and why you need to learn a new skill, explain your strategy for learning it, demonstrate that you are learning it, and continually look for other ways to use it. Learnership is the process of being self-motivated to learn and keep learning.

Learnership is what employers are looking for in anyone that works for them.

On the job, learnership means the ability to identify:

  • What skills you need to learn in order to do your job more effectively and efficiently,
  • What this skill looks like at the highest level,
  • What your methods are for learning how to do tasks and projects on the job,
  • How to recognize if you are learning or if you are struggling,
  • How to ask for help—and respond to the feedback with a growth mindset,
  • What your specific learning needs are and how to get the help, and
  • How you support others in the same situation.

With jobs changing so rapidly, many careers will be obsolete before our elementary, middle, and high school students enter college or the work force. To be successful in this environment, our students must be able to:

  • Think critically, research, and solve problems,
  • Persevere with resilience and creativity, and
  • Collaborate, cooperate, and communicate with colleagues.

In other words, our students must have the skill of learnership.

How to Develop Learnership

Therefore, we will argue that the role of K-12 education is no longer about getting through the curriculum. It is no longer about passing from grade to grade. It is no longer about getting a better GPA. It is about fostering students to have the motivation to clearly know what they are learning, how they are learning it, and how well they are learning. It is about developing students that know their role is as a learner. It is about supporting students to take ownership of their own learning.

Pupils Carrying Out Experiment In Science Class

© Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

This can happen when students are supported each and every day to know and be able to articulate for themselves:

  • What am I learning today?
  • How will I know I have learned it?
  • How will I use this learning after today?
  • How will I learn it?
  • What will I do if I struggle to learn it?
  • What is my role in supporting other learners to learn?

This means that as teachers we must take a risk and flip our approach from what we need to teach to what students need to learn–today, tomorrow, and for the rest of their lives. Then, we need to model learnership by sharing with our students the decisions we made in regards to what they are learning and why, how they will know when they have learned it, how they will use it in the future, what to do if they struggle, and what their role will be in the learning.

What Our Students Need

When we support students to develop learnership we begin the process of equipping them for lifelong learning.

Friedman reminds us, “When the pace of change gets this fast, the only way to retain a lifelong working capacity is to engage in lifelong learning.”

Learnership is the skill that powers lifelong learning.

Learnership is the skill that will get our students hired.

Learnership is the skill that will allow our students to dictate their own career trajectory.

Learnership is the skill that allows for lifelong working capacity.

In our fast-paced society, our students must have this skill. And we are the ones who can teach it to them. Our students need us to teach learnership.

Let’s go.

The Learning Brief

In this article you learned…
  • To be successful in a chosen career or any working environment our students need learnership.
  • Learnership is exemplified by someone who self-directs, self-evaluates, self-reflects, and self-controls their own learning.
  • Employers are looking for qualified candidates who can think critically, persevere, and communicate effectively—in other words, the qualities of true learnership.
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Can you imagine building an environment full of motivated, engaged, and eager students who own their learning?
We can.

Let us show you how

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