At Walmart, while we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary this year, we talk more in terms of the next generation… A forward looking perspective of how we will write a brand new story of the next 50 years to help more people around the world have a better life. One of the factors that will determine our future success as a company is the quality of an individual’s education. Walmart’s Lifelong Learning Program offers a competitive advantage to 1.4 million U.S. associates to attend college while also working at the company, through a partnership with American Public University (APU). The partnership puts associates on a faster track to earning a college degree, reduces their length of time in school, and makes the overall cost of education more affordable.
Personally, I was fortunate to grow up in Hawaii where I attended a very well-established private school that provided a strong base for my entire education. The curriculum was well-rounded and the teachers focused on ensuring that every student understood why education was key to success in their lives. Being academically successful was just as “cool” as being a great athlete. That solid foundation prepared me well when I enrolled in Harvard Law School and later served as a partner in a law firm and general counsel in my professional life. The impact of education is far-reaching and allows us to gain the necessary skills and confidence to succeed.
We have to realize that times have changed and the skills that students need are very different from even twenty years ago when the internet was just gaining momentum. We have a better understanding of how everyone learns differently and must be taught using various teaching methodologies. Our educational system must evolve. To unlock a student’s fullest potential, the student must be taught in a way that best aligns to his or her most natural learning style.
Most curricula today teach students about roles and boundaries from books that are outdated and non-inclusive. I believe that students will learn more quickly and effectively if they can experience it using their five senses. We should offer students immersive learning experiences that not only teach information but also focuses on having students hone the practical, real life skills necessary to succeed in this quickly changing world.
Our environment is becoming increasingly more global. We must expand beyond teaching just English. We cannot consider foreign languages as elective—they must be seen as essential. By including foreign languages, cultural diversity, and public speaking classes into school curricula, students will be better prepared for life outside of the classroom. That is the purpose of next-generation education.