So in case you don’t know it, I’ve got kids. They’ll be 12 and 10 this summer (omg) which makes me perk up when I run across magazine covers like this one from Time last week titled “The Future of Work.”
Throw away the briefcase: you’re not going to the office. You can kiss your benefits goodbye too. And your new boss won’t look much like your old one. There’s no longer a ladder, and you may never get to retire, but there’s a world of opportunity if you figure out a new path.
Welcome to my world. Seems I’ve stepped right into the future. What catches me, however, is that while I could never imagine making the shift back to the life I once knew (or some semblance of it), when I think of my kids, that description of their futures makes me shudder. Ironic, isn’t it?
Inside, Time says
We will see a more flexible, more freelance, more collaborative and far less secure work world. It will be run by a generation with new values–and women will increasingly be at the controls.
Which would seem to me to suggest that we need to create a more flexible, more freelance, more collaborative learning experience for my kids, right? If as the article states fully 40% of the US workforce is predicted to be independent contractors by 2019, shouldn’t we be rethinking what it means to prepare them for that?
What I want for my kids regardless of what school they are in is to be able to pursue their passion, to be problem solvers in the face of adversity, to be provided a different picture of their own working futures in light of this huge shift that’s taking place. Yet I wonder how many classrooms discussed that Time issue (or any other different visions) even in passing. And while I know Time’s vision may not come to fruition, I have little doubt that’s the way things are trending. Doesn’t feel like we’re doing much about it.
Steve Ransom says
Will, relax. Why build an ark? It’s not going to rain that much. Just use the same umbrella that you’ve always used. It’s worked, hasn’t it? And, there’s no way you can get all of those animals to collaborate or get along. They are from all over the country. No room is big enough for all of them. Ark 2.0.
What exactly should we be doing?
An ark will be needed, not an umbrella, but we aren’t the ones who will build it. Your children’s generation will build that ark with the tools we provide.
Tools of problem-solving, looking at different angles/viewpoints of dilemmas, comprehension, creativity, connection, collaboration. Notice I didn’t mention technology tools, although those tools make the things listed possible in ways we never thought…………
They will be fine, Will. Look where they’re from…..
We know that kids will be having we in the future. Does this mean a should sexualize the classrom?
Of course not!
We need to think about scaffolding, developmentally appropriate lessons and fundamental skills first and last. The classroom should no more look like the workplace of the future thanthe school cafeteria should look likes the so goes bars of the future.
The jobs of the future spun like most of the jobs I have had in the past and most of the jobs my friends have today. So why should this article prompt changes?
Color me unconvinced.
Andrew B. Watt says
“We know that kids will be having sex in the future. Does that mean we should sexualize the classroom? No!”
We know that kids are having sex now. Our response is to preach abstinence when we say anything at all, and to teach literature and history from bowdlerized texts devoid of sex or violence, and math and science from books rather than real-world experience. We pretend that school is an ideal world and that our students will go on to do versions of what Bob Cratchit and Elizabeth Bennett did.
Bah, I say. Humbug!
You suggest that we should concentrate on fundamental skills. For students at my school, this often means writing assignments by hand, for an audience of one, in a single-day turnaround time. It means learning to use a highlighter pen, and write in penmanship. It means filling out worksheets.
Let’s see… how many k-12 teachers know how to start a business? How many teachers know how to run a stock market portfolio? How many teachers know how to paint? To write a novel? To fix a motorcycle? To assemble a catapult? To build a stone wall? To dance a waltz? To compose a sonnet? To speak two foreign languages? To play in a band? To march in a parade? To participate in a town meeting? To build a house?
Are these fundamental skills? Yes. Are they taught in classrooms? No.
Will’s questions make me think regularly about what I *DO* teach, because clearly I am not teaching anything like ‘fundamental skills’. I have no idea what the skills I’m supposed to teach are ‘for’, except more school.
Mark M says
I think our educational system needs a complete overhaul. Why do so many kids hate school, become chronically truant, or drop-out? Because school is not relevant to what they see as their “real” lives! When students are not in school, they are surrounded by technology that keeps them connected to each other (cell phones, internet, chat rooms, email). As soon as they step into the classroom, we expect them to sit quietly and listen to some old person talk about stuff that means nothing to them (algebra? literature? history?). Sure kids need to learn these things, but why can’t they learn them by using technology and collaborating with each other to figure out real life issues?
I graduated from high school in 2002, and not once did I consider that I would have the same job for 40 years, slowly working my way up the job ladder. I want to have one job for awhile, make some money, move across the country, travel, maybe get another job in a totally different field, etc. My students (who will graduate in 2015) will likely be even more to the extreme, as is suggested by the article that states “fully 40% of the US workforce is predicted to be independent contractors by 2019.”
Our current sit-and-get educational system is not going to cut it for our students, now or in the future.
Your comments are very timely. I have a 8 and 4 year old and have personally made the change into an freelance/consulting environment.
Even at this young age I find myself engaging my children in the tasks, tools and decisions I make with my business – I would love for them to take on a similar role when they enter the work force being able to work in an environment where they can follow their passion. I just need to make sure that they have the experiences required to understand what their passion might be and to experience the highs and lows of this type of employment and communicating/collaborating with others.
At least I am having the conversation with my children about finance, customers, clients, suppliers and communication; even at this early stage of life these things are becoming blurred.
I to am concerned for our children. The world is harsh, to say the least. I believe that I am instilling the skills to for them able to survive in the technology savvy world. They learn great collaboration skills in the schools already so the rest, I feel, will catch up. Who would have thought a year ago that people in there 70’s or older would be on facebook. We adapt and so will they. They just need love and support!