Friday, February 6, 2015

Success for our Kids in Today's World

I heard the quote from author Liz Wiseman:  "We live in a world where information is multiplying rapidly and only 15% of what we know today will be relevant in five years.  If that is true, do you think it is important to know what 15% will be relevant?" (Wiseman, 2015)  Connect this with an interesting trend in our economy that shows a steep increase in the number of people who are among the self-employed especially in urban areas.  This means people are becoming more entrepreneurial and more willing and skilled to be innovative and create their own opportunities.  These factors, along with the understanding that tomorrow's worker will change jobs and occupations many more times than their parents and grandparents, create an environment that is more unique than any generation since.

What does this mean for the type of world our students are entering after their experiences and learning in our school district?  Think about the skills needed in today's economy based on the above information.  Workers need to be flexible, self-starters who are adapted to learn and adjust to the needs of a local economy, especially if they are working for themselves.  What skills do we give them, and what should they be able to know and do when they leave our campuses?  In a nutshell, the most important process students need to learn is "learning to learn."  Students need to know how to learn in a world where information is literally right in front of their noses. 

With this access to immediate content and knowledge, our learning today looks much different.  I shared an example with my grandson who at nine years old asked me how Walt Disney died (of all questions).  We were at a restaurant table waiting for our lunch order and my grandson, who was not at all patient with my non-answer ("I don't know"), stealthily snuck away my iPhone from its resting place.  Halfway into the meal, he solemnly shared, "Lung cancer."  I said, "What?" And then I realized he "Googled" the answer to his question.  What was even more interesting was that we branched off into a conversation about cryonics and Walt Disney's interest in that process (you can look up that relationship), albeit a little morbid for a Greek lunch.  My point is our learning is asynchronous, immediate, spontaneous and on demand.  How many times have we used YouTube to learn something new or to delve deeper into a subject and see and learn first hand how to master a challenge?  The answer is most of us have become masters of our own learning.

Liz Wiseman also mentioned we need to be wired for learning versus wired for knowing. (Wiseman, 2015)  Our kids are graduating into a world where learning looks much like this but on a grander scale where they are responsible for their own learning.  They have to have the wherewithal and the mindset to learn a new set of skills that make them marketable in a world that is changing faster than most of us are used to.  They are entering a job market and potential self-employment where they learn jobs in which they are responsible for educating themselves!

In essence our curriculum is geared toward teaching our students to think, learn and create.  This has to include providing learning opportunities that are "real-world", including hands on and authentic types of assessments involved with career technical education and the use of technology to solve problems and use their creativity.  This curriculum is unfolding and being implemented before our very eyes as we see more an more project based learning using the learning principles of the new common core.  The new economy is providing different opportunities and the upside for our kids is unlimited; we just get to be in on creating the foundation for their future successes!

Wiseman, L. (2015, January). Rookie Smarts. Speech presented at the ACSA Superintendents' Symposium, Monterey, CA.