If I was “Ted” this is what I would say…
Why I am passionate about functional skills..
A class full of adults: some there because they want to be and are eager to learn, some there out of curiosity, some there because it’s better than the mind numbing alternative to ‘labour’, some there because they have learned that it is easier to ‘play the game’ or for other reward.
How do I entice them all? Functional skills (hitherto referred to as f.s.) can appeal because it is practical. Most can find something that they can use in their every day life, work life or if nothing else as a stepping stone to further education. Need to write a formal letter or cover letter to land you that good job? “Yes we can!” (quote Bob the builder) Want to be able to read that small print, or that legal document, or flat pack instructions? “Yes!” Can I deliver that quick, concise pitch? “Of course!”
And there’s more, f.s. is about problem solving, knowing how to methodically recognise, understand, apply skills and solve everyday situations. Use these questions:
What is the problem?
What do I already know?
What do I need to find out?
What tools do I need?
How much time do I have?
Each problem will probably involve the old fashioned Reading wRiting and aRithmetic. And for good measure and modern times use I.T. as a tool.
It is what it says on the ‘can’ Functional.
Hooked? Go ahead and write an e-mail to agree with me, persuade me that you are the perfect student and possess the best qualifications for taking the course, and calculate how many weeks it will take to complete the 72 hour course if you have four 3 hour sessions per week. Then book your exams using the on line booking form.
“Simples!” Oh and while you are here you might also like to list four layout features that assisted you to read this text; correct any grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, (yes, even teacher’s make mistakes) and analyse the language techniques I have used.
Functional skills has a great, big, fat flaw. It has not taken into consideration changing skills required in industry and life in general.
Soft skills are more important than hard skills during the job hunt where EQ – emotional intelligence – is valued more by employers than IQ. When it comes down to searching for a job and workplace success, your attitude and personality traits take a central role because this defines the kind of relationship you are going to have with other people whether it is your next employer, colleagues, manager or clients.
Now top ten lists include,
integrity, flexibility, independence, diversity and awareness of culture, confidence, self awareness and creativity.
As a teacher holding classes in an environment devoid of colour, music, poetry, and beauty I yearn to fill my classroom with such things, rather than the many posters of ‘instructions, how to do….; current success rates and “your learning journey”. I want to celebrate success by displaying the poems they write, the funny cartoons they draw and the doodles that fill their exercise books. I want to play music that makes them laugh, cry and sit up and listen and talk. I want to throw a party every time a skill is displayed, a target crossed off and an exam successfully completed. I want to fill my classroom with colour, shapes, abstracts and solids. I want to read Shakespeare, Dickens, Stephen King, Dr Suess, Michael Morporgu, Asterix and Tolkein. I want to watch Charlie Chaplin, Sean Connery, Meryl Streep, BBC news, even the weather forecast. I want to learn about their world as well as share items that influenced me.
In truth I want to prepare them for the new world, the developing world, their world of new marketing, new branding, new consumer/provider relationships. I want to help them find themselves and know themselves, so that they can enter that world in confidence, style and flair and be comfortable in their own abilities and personalities.
To me that is true functionality
This blog is dedicated to a colleague who challenges my teaching and is convinced I need to TED talk! Thanks M.B.