Hazel Mason said:
We can’t make America great again, or Europe only white by trying to recreate the world of the past. The era of well paying industrial jobs with amazing benefits and pensions is over. The problem America and other industrial nations are facing is the girth of their populations who are not just ill equipped but not at all equipped to compete in the Modern Learning world. In a sense I suspect we are in for some difficult times because the folks who are being disenfranchised by the changes we are experiencing need for someone to blame. They can’t blame themselves and their inability to adapt and re-learn, so it must be the fault of the immigrants. What they may need to start to grapple with is countries like India, China, Singapore etc. already realize they need to change.
If educators are still unconvinced moving to a Modern Learning environment is a moral imperative, I hope they are beginning to come around. We cannot continue to educate students in classrooms designed for a world that no longer exists. The unrest we are beginning to see is a testament to the change we are facing and we have a professional obligation to ensure our current students are ready to adapt to an ever changing horizon.
*Sigh* I agree, but it is not that easy to predict. When I started high school, I went to the opening of the university’s particle accelerator because nuclear physics was the world of tomorrow. By the time my daughter started high school they were tearing down the particle accelerator and built the Nano tech lab on the site. Nanotech wasn’t even a WORD when I started high school. So predicting the world of the future is tricky because the jobs that will be there (assuming there are any jobs at all in the future, if AIs continue to improve) won’t be the ones we can begin to imagine today.
The more serious barrier, of course, is the sociological one that the emergent capitalist class has no interest in allowing workers or their children learning anything that would undermine their joining the 1%. In the industrial age, it took 100 years and collective action (the emergence of unions) to get the 40 hour week, workers compensation, health and safety laws and so on. Now all that has vanished as online platforms (Uber is a familiar example) that take 25% cut of money collected to connect customer and provider, but the service provider is left without any of the protections that workers enjoyed in the industrial period. So you want to prepare kids for the future, teach them about unions, collective action, and so on, so they can learn how to fight for their rights. But that is just never, ever going to happen in American schools.
I had a similar experience to Dr. Runte. I started college in 1990, there was no World Wide Web, by the time that my class graduated, that was half of their jobs! The reason that they were able to get into it was having been trained how to learn new skills (because most Web work at that time meant teaching yourself HTML and server tools from the online documentation, not taking courses).
I also agree with the social/labor issue, but it’s even more fundamental than that. It’s difficult to learn anything when you are dealing with food and housing insecurity, drug and alcohol issues at home, and the parents who are trying to make a better future for their children may not know what to do, or are working so much that they don’t have the time to provide the support.
There’s also the “brain drain” issue. Small towns don’t have a technological workforce, so there are no STEM jobs there (and no one will locate there without the workforce), so people who go into those fields have to move away, leaving no one to motivate or assist the next generation. It’s difficult to see the value of an education when the people who are benefiting are hundreds or thousands of miles away. The inequality of opportunity increases.
As a high school teacher and father in the US, I have grappled for many years with the question of how best to equip youth for the world. In our increasingly fast-paced and technologically advanced society, what skills and knowledge will they need?
I think there is a glaring omission in the standard curriculum: the internet. There is some teaching of coding and digital safety, but little if any lessons about the most revolutionary development in our era.
Living Online Lab is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing, teaching, and promoting internet studies using holistic curriculum that covers a wide range of topics about the digital world. Our goal is to help educate youth to be knowledgable, engaged, and critical digital citizens.
The answer is simple: create entrepreneurial learners. When we can teach our children to learn, how to gather knowledge, how to process knowledge, they will learn the skills that are needed at that moment in time. The current half-life of a new job skill is less than five years. That means most skills learned in high school will no longer be useful by the time they are out of college.
I currently do work that didn’t exist five years ago. There was an inkling it would exist ten years ago. When I was in college, it didn’t exist.
We do a disservice to our youth when we pressure them to start making life decisions based on current paradigms. We need to teach flexibility, agility, and problem solving.