A few months ago, I watched a story on what could be termed the most terrifying or exciting thing about the future. It basically claimed that many of the jobs we know today would be going away, and that we really have no idea what jobs will be needed in the future. You’ve probably heard some version of this in the news, and can see the reactions to it in our political discourse.
As a teacher, I don’t really fear that there won’t be some kind of teaching opportunity for me, but maybe I’m wrong and everyone will just become autodidacts. Am I prepared to make a hard shift to a completely different field?
These future conversations do make me a little scared at times. I’ve charged a family member with giving me a Kevorkian treatment should the robots start to take over. I can’t live in a world where most of my time is spent interacting with machines. I just can’t! Is that what we should expect?
How do we in education prepare our children for jobs that haven’t even been created yet? That is quite a tall order to be sure. It reminds me of thoughts I had in certain classes growing up -- when am I ever going to use this? I seemed to think that most of what I learned in algebra and geometry would offer no use to me as I got older. I wasn’t going to need that kind of math. Adding and subtracting, sure. But not quadratic equations or the order of operations (first, inner, outer last -- thanks Ms. Clingenpeel).
Then I learned about a new book coming out by the well-respected author and futurist, Yuval Noah Harari. In 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Harari writes about what we need to be teaching our children to prepare them for the ever-shifting sands of the future. He suggests we should be emphasizing life skills, emotional intelligence and mental resilience. Harari said “information is the last thing they need” because they can get that easily. We need to teach them how to think, how to cope, and how to understand themselves.
What applications are there from this directive for us in education? Surely there are ways we can do a better job of providing this kind of preparation for our children. To be sure, we are already doing some of this, so I’ll share more of what I’ve seen in Putnam City in future posts.