By Lt. Col. Ralph Gracia
As an adjunct professor for the past decade at Eastern Florida State College (EFSC) teaching success strategies, one area I have focused on is leading students to enhance their educational background. In our current society, emerging educational leaders are hard to come by, so it is imperative to become the educational “honest broker” in an influx educational system. An education is the pursuit of a lifelong dream using a lifelong goal. In my EFSC classes, I inform students about pursuing their dreams and to dream big about what they want in college and in life. Essentially it’s being able to line up your goal toward that ultimate dream. It’s best to follow your interests, talents, and goals to find the dream that will bring you success. Success is very much about personal happiness and knowing what you’ve learned in achieving it. Unfortunately, our current education system, driven by society, focuses on a short-term goal being achieved, a test being passed, or getting the “right” answer. There are several foundational blocks necessary to build lifelong learning and passing a test is not one of them.
One of the most critical foundational blocks for lifelong learning, in fact, is difficult to measure with a test. At EFSC, my students learn the importance of working collaboratively. From my experience, learning collaboratively encourages the students to listen to others to think for themselves, and to explain their thinking processes. Once they leave EFSC, it will be much more important that students can work collaboratively. Unfortunately, at times, our education system insists upon testing them individually and encourages them to compete rather than collaborate. Now, more than ever, they need to be working together as a team to help all students. On a personal note, teaching and learning from my students in both college and in high school have made me understand and connect with our own educational system. Students who work together will learn more, enjoy learning, and welcome new challenges. As educators, we need to find ways to help students learn, even if it means looking outside of the textbooks or bending over backward to get them on the path to success.
In an ever-changing world, our educational system continues to affect success in the lives of millennials. Our students deserve solid building blocks to that success. Through my course, I am an active part of my students’ lives, strengthening their relationships with their education. I believe if we effectively shape the learning environment for today’s students, then they can all succeed in the 21st Century.