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29 July 2013 @ 10:38 am
Ready? Set. Hire!  
From a link on Twitter, I read a piece on the Huffington Post online about a recent survey of employers and what they were looking for in candidates:

"Nearly all those surveyed (93 percent) say that "a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate's] undergraduate major."

•More than 9 in 10 want those they hire to demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.
•More than three-fourths of employers want more emphasis on: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.
•Nearly three-fourths would recommend this kind of education to a young person they know as the best way to prepare for success in today's global economy."


The preparation they were referring to in college was the oft-lambasted Liberal Arts Degree. But, in my not-so-humble opinion, they were also talking about candidates that were readers. How do I know? I think readers develop morals and values (ethics) as they read. I think readers' ability to think critically is developed by reading, FICTION as well as nonfiction. I know writers were readers. Hardly anyone becomes a writer without first being a reader. Intercultural skills (and I am thinking things like empathy here, too) are developed by reading about other cultures.

I think this can translate readily to the making ready of our kids for college and career. well before they head off to college. While David Coleman might sneer at narrative, at fiction, at writing about thoughts and feelings, the truth is that these are significant in the lives of kids. I do not leave the books I have read in the past behind as I move forward. The important ones move forward with me. Note that there are not all classics nor works of literary magnificence. I still think my time spent reading series books and later reading serially account for my continued passion for books and reading. Those personal essays and memoirs contribue to what I bring to my teaching and my writing. Nothing really gets left behind (Hmmm...no book left behind).

The first assignment my YA lit classes do is a reading autobiography (now extended to include reading timelines or other ways of expressing their reading lives). I need to meet them where they are before I can assist them in getting where they need to be in order to become school librarians. I need to know how they have come to be lifelong readers (and most of my students are, thankfully, there already). I need to see the bumps and obstacles along the way. AND I need to remind them that the road to lifelong reading was not always a smooth one but that there were important events, books, people who helped on the journey. I DO care about their thoughts and feelings. We do not leave those outside the door when we enter a classroom or library. We need to be aware of them. Reading helps me recall those memories.

Right now, I am following the tweets of Scott Simon (NPR) as he sits holding his mother's hands in a hospice. That writing is immediate, personal, and gut-wrenching as it sends me back a few years when I was doing much the same thing for my daughter. It reminds me of so many memories, feelings. It reconnects me to the moment. Words do that, you know: they connect and reconnect, they remind and remain, they sink deep within us.
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