I attended tonight's UTEP football game against our I-10 rivals, the Aggies. As I was sitting in the stands, I was trying to remember my years as an undergraduate here. I was also trying to analyze what it is that made me a successful college student. What where the skills I needed the most? How did I acquire these? Most importantly, I asked myself, "How can you develop these skills in my own students?" The term, college readiness, has become ubiquitous through out our district (kids, that is a fancy word for "present everywhere"). But, what does it really mean? It helps to expose children to the idea that college is an option for them, by having College days where the teachers wear shirts and jersey's from different Universities. But, it is also important to make sure that, even at an early age, we prepare them for the challenges they will face.
It is impossible to predict the future, of course, and we cannot know for sure how the college experience will be when our 4th and 5th graders attend a university. But, we can provide them with the basic skills that transcend any generation. Good inquiry skills are essential, at any period in history, for a successful college career. Yes, it is important to answer students' questions, but equally as important is showing them how to ASK the right questions. As I look back at my college years, I think the ability to search for answers was one of the most useful skills I possessed. And, technological advances will not change that. As a matter of fact, I think it might make it even more important to have good research and inquiry skills in an age where more and more information is available. In my classroom, my GT's ask a lot of questions. Yes, as they should! :-)