The future of work: How do we prepare our students?
Although we cannot predict with certainty the types of jobs that will exist in the future, we know that today’s students will need a variety of skills, “21st century skills.” However, these are skills that our students need today. Knowing this, we must ask ourselves what are the best ways to provide all students with authentic, unique, and innovative learning experiences that will foster the development of these essential skills? How can we prepare students for jobs which may not exist yet in our ever-changing world?
As an educator of 25 years, I have seen a lot of changes in education. Popular discussions in learning communities focus on teaching methods, the classroom “space,” homework and grading policies, and whether students need a college degree to be successful in the future. When I was in high school, attending college was the natural progression after graduation for most students. My high school had students divided into different tracks: business, college prep, and vo-tech. Within each track, students followed a specific course of studies, with little room for “electives.” The goal was to prepare most students for college or entering the workforce after graduation. To do so, meant following a standard curriculum.
Looking at the changes we have seen in the areas of education and work, I think the best action we can take is to offer specific types of learning experiences for all students. If we provide ways for them to more actively learn and explore the world, then hopefully, and ideally, no matter what they ultimately decide to do, they will have skills, real-world awareness, and flexibility that will have them well-equipped for a constantly changing system.