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Preparing students for rock-climbing instead of ladder-climbing

November 19, 2017


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I think we can all agree that the pace of change in the workplace has significantly increased in the last decade and shows no signs of slowing down. As a district, Saline has focused on the 2014 Forbes, Inc. list of the ten skills employers are looking for in new graduates to help guide decisions for this instructional change.  It is one of the reasons that the SAS Learner Profile is so essential.  Saline teachers, staff, and administrators have a united focus to enhance the skills that all students will need to possess as they move on to college and career.

In thinking about careers, that landscape has changed as well.  The future of working and the workforce, in general, is being impacted by technology and globalization in ways we cannot anticipate or fully predict.  We do know that automation will continue to influence the workplace. The 21st Century graduates need problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills to adapt to these changes. Students must be globally aware of the economic impact that automation, technology, and software development have on job opportunities. Students must demonstrate flexibility and embrace the challenge of a new career – sometimes on a moment’s notice. They also need to possess the mindset of a rock climber vs. a corporate ladder climber.

“That means that the notion of a career ladder — predictable and linear steps upward — in a world that is constantly changing is obsolete. Rather, people will need to be like rock climbers — constantly adjusting to new opportunities and challenges. They must also be resourceful so they can take advantage of those opportunities.”Lou Glazer

Terms such as “growth mindset” and “grit” have become buzzwords in today’s educational environment. Students that embrace a positive outlook, approach adversity as an opportunity, and chart a personal course for continuous growth will be successful in whatever they choose to do beyond high school. They are ready for the rock climb. For those students that have placed walls in the way of opportunity, the educator must guide the student toward richer, deeper thinking that is beyond today’s minor missteps. As we continue to define and implement the student attributes in the Saline Area Schools’ Learner Profile, we need to be mindful of how the students will own and then apply these skills when they transition from the classroom to the workplace.


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