Secondary and college students are faced with a daunting future of rapid change, technological unknowns and shifting opportunities – changes which the academic world is unprepared to address in any meaningful way.
Inertia and the standard human response within such bureaucratic structures is timidity and misdirected mission. Without a shared vision of what changes are necessary for today’s curriculum as well as adapting the academic culture, the present generation of students will not be fortified for success in the near as well a distant future.
These are skills that are learned over time, as human cognitive development naturally occurs. There is no silver bullet, no easy fix.
Much is spoken about building the essential skills of resilience, communication, collaboration and adaptability, and creative thinking (especially by corporate leaders) but there is very little substance and limited consistency structured into the standard academic experience of students – to build those crucial capabilities. This requires shared vision, courage and extraordinary leadership.
Doing the same old thing just isn’t acceptable; it is rather, irresponsible!
With the exponential integration of robotic technology, artificial intelligence and learning machines into the everyday existence of virtually all humans, developing and refining those uniquely human skills that can not be supplanted by machines will make the difference for each individual between “success” or at the other pole, a deep sense of loss of purpose, social place and financial viability.
It is inevitable that these changes are coming! They are already here and coming at us all at an increasingly rapid rate, remixing and morphing. To resist the change is ultimately futile, as it was for the Luddites in the early 19th Century reaction to the Industrial Revolution.
If you use a smartphone, the internet, any aspect of the Internet of Things (IoT), Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, an AI personal assistant, etc. you are already embracing that change.
The response to these changes rather should be “how to manage change”; That is, not blindly accepting all technological change as a good thing but rather take time to reflect on the impacts each of those changes as they evolve could have on social fabric and structure, on socio-economic balance, and on the democratic processes we hold dear, with an eye on what applications benefit the greatest number in society, not just the few.
It will be essential for each individual to constantly adapt, embrace life-long learning, and look to the future as much as to the present in order to anticipate the various paths toward a fulfilled life.
Schools by their very nature are foundational environments where for at least 12 years of schooling, practice and cognitive training can make a fundamental difference in the direction of future successive generations and ultimately in the framing of humanity’s direction.