– FUTURE-PROOF YOUR KIDS –

OUR SCHOOLS MAY BE EDUCATING OUR KIDS INTO A JOBLESS FUTURE

The fact that primary education systems are failing isn’t news. The extent to which they’re failing, and in what areas, is the startling part. For some time, education has shifted the focus to information retention and test-taking with little regard for whether the information is relevant or useful once the scores are tabulated.

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by Unreplaceables.com

WHAT ARE WE PREPARING THEM FOR? 

An emphasis on standardized testing and rote learning may improve a school district’s academic standing and access to government funding, but it does little to prepare our children to thrive in tomorrow’s job market.

In fact, most of the information we cram into their heads in order to hit the latest arbitrary metric leaves their brains soon after they turn in their test papers.

“Are we failing the next generation”

THE PROBLEM WITH THE WAY WE EDUCATE  

Anyone with school-age children knows the state of education. Budget shortfalls have stripped schools of the tools needed to prepare today’s children for tomorrow’s workforce.

Textbooks and technology are out of date, if there are even enough to go around. Classrooms are overcrowded, and teachers are overwhelmed.

Kids can learn more by reaching for the smartphone in their pocket than in their classroom, but unfiltered access to the internet isn’t necessarily the kind of self-directed learning that leads to future jobs. If something doesn’t change, the preschoolers of today will face even more difficulties.

BEING COMPLACENT   

In many countries around the globe, technology is considered a supplementary course and not part of the core curriculum. Many school systems have also reduced or eliminated arts-related classes.

When the budget axe falls, it usually falls on these two subject areas. Recess or any kind of unstructured down-time are discontinued or discouraged in many school districts.

Kids are over-stressed and over-scheduled, and teachers are suffering from burnout trying to meet unfunded mandates and prepare their students for the next round of standardized testing. The good ones are becoming discouraged and leaving for other professions.

ALLOWING TIME FOR PLAY   

Another thing that’s missing from childhood – in and outside an educational setting – is permission to play. Not through video games or meeting pre-chosen, parent-approved companions for pre-arranged, regimented play dates. Unstructured play that encourages kids to be active, explore, interact with a diverse group of children, and to use their imaginations.

Children learn a lot from just being kids, testing their limits and developing social skills among their peers. It’s an art that today’s children have little knowledge of or experience with.

The adaptability, social intelligence, and free-form thinking that children develop through play are going to be more useful to them in future jobs than test scores.

“Once they enter school, an education system that’s based on obsolete thinking and outmoded metrics stifles mental agility and forces children into a static environment where structured, linear thinking is emphasized and creativity is inhibited.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF THOSE EARLY YEARS    

Human learning is at its most accelerated pace before a child reaches school age. Whether that child spends those formative years in the home or at a day care center, the foundation for their learning style is set during this period when they are most mentally nimble and flexible.

Once they enter school, an education system that’s based on obsolete thinking and outmoded metrics stifles mental agility and forces children into a static environment where structured, linear thinking is emphasized and creativity is inhibited.

“We are taught to stand in line and fit in”

STAND IN LINE   

We’re taught to conform, to fit in, to stand in lock-step and get with the program. Any attempt to adopt a more progressive curriculum is met with accusations of social engineering. What these critics fail to take into account is that almost all education involves some degree of social engineering. It’s why our classrooms look more like production facilities than places of learning.

The focus must shift from results-based learning that lauds achievement via test scores and grades, punishing or shaming those who don’t measure up.

TOMORROW’S CRITICAL SKILLS   

While individual academic achievement and good study habits aren’t bad in and of themselves, future work environments will rely more on group collaboration, mental agility, and creative problem resolution.

In fact, those traits will be essential if we want our young adults to be able to coexist with robots and artificial intelligence.

In order to help children develop these traits, education needs to redirect toward teaching process-based learning and a more cooperative mode of problem solving while helping students hone critical thinking skills.

“future work environments will rely more on group collaboration, mental agility, and creative problem resolution”

THE ONE WAY EDUCATION SHOULD BE MORE LIKE BUSINESS   

One hindrance is the disparity in pacing between the business and academic worlds. The success of any business depends on responsiveness and the ability to ride the crest of the next innovation. It’s all about building a better mousetrap and getting it on the market before the next guy.

One of the biggest complaints of business owners is that there’s a shortage of workers who have the wherewithal to meet such demands.

EDUCATION IS DIFFERENT 

Our education system is timed by academic calendars and built on studying feasibility or pondering possibilities. Then it takes more time determining the relevance or usefulness of information and methodologies before implementation can begin.

There may be pilot programs that are introduced in one school and run for several years before administrators decide whether to give them a broader trial or scrap them because expansion isn’t in the budget or the program doesn’t meet some arbitrary mandate. No matter if it benefits the students.

“The cost of private education is simply out of reach for many families”

SOCIOECONOMIC BARRIERS TO LEARNING   

There are private schools and enrichment programs that do de-emphasize traditional measures of academic prowess in favor of free-form thinking and self-directed studies. These programs and schools allow children the freedom to explore and learn what they’re passionate about while giving them the ability to tailor their curriculum to build on those interests. Montessori education is an excellent example.

Montessori schools embrace a collaborative environment over grades or tests. The learning method consists of, multi-aged classrooms, as well as self-directed learning and discovery sessions. It runs in contrary to our traditional education model and has had its praises sung by many of societies most recent success stories.

Both Sergei Brin and Larry Page – the founders of Google – both attended Montessori schools. While it is true that both of these visionaries had college professors for parents, when asked what early influences had played the largest part in their success, both pointed to the self-directed learning of their ‘Montessori’ years.

We can see this process play out in the history of Google itself. The search engine wasn’t designed, built and marketed by the duo as an amazing new product but instead was the result of a project to improve library search and what followed evolved into a new and innovative business model that has changed the world in many different ways.

SOCIOECONOMIC BARRIERS TO LEARNING   

“There’s a likelihood of wide-spread economic instability that will further exacerbate the problem when mere survival becomes more important than education.”

Unfortunately, the cost of private education is simply out of reach for many families.

This will create a greater disparity between those who are prepared for employment in the mid-21st century and those who aren’t, and leave a very large number of young adults unemployable or only suited for low-skilled jobs that will no longer exist.

The cost to society of such undeveloped potential will be devastating. There’s a likelihood of wide-spread economic instability that will further exacerbate the problem when mere survival becomes more important than education.

UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME    

Some have suggested solutions like a universal basic income, which is being tested on a small scale in Canada and Finland, but such fixes aren’t very popular in Washington or on Main Street U.S.A. Bill Gates has even suggested a robot tax. Others have toyed with the idea of creating human quotas for companies.

But, the answer isn’t to stifle or punish progress. We need to become proactively engaged in preparing our kids for it.

If our priorities don’t change, the inability to access meaningful education and the resulting lack of socioeconomic viability will produce a generational trickle-down effect that’s exponentially worse than what we’re seeing now.

Emerging economies or those struggling with economic downturns will face a brain drain as their best and brightest go uneducated or leave for places where there is opportunity.

This will further squeeze secure job markets as the pools of qualified applicants outstrip available positions. To remain competitive, you’ll have to offer more than just technical proficiency.

“The core fundamentals of literacy will always be necessary

WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS

Culture is the last thing to change, not the first. Changing the culture must start within the organization, which is education.

The core fundamentals of literacy will always be necessary. However, researchers from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), a consortium of leaders in business, education, and policy, state that the 3 Rs should be augmented by 6 Cs to lay the foundation for future employment.

These are also among the metaskills delineated by Marty Neumeier in his work, Metaskills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age. They are:

Critical thinking and problem solving

Creativity and innovation

Cross-cultural understanding

Communications, information, and media literacy

Computing and ICT literacy

Career and learning self-reliance

BROADENING THE CREATIVE SPECTRUM  

Of those six skills, creativity may be the most essential. In a World Economic Forum, creativity was listed as number three among the top skills sought by employers, right behind complex problem solving and critical thinking.

Highly creative, agile minds provide us with the ability to think on our feet and find innovative solutions. If you consider how many times a day it’s necessary to mentally shift gears to address an unexpected situation, you’ll understand how developing these three interrelated skills can help kids cope in an increasingly transitional world.

“Being creative isn’t a matter of learning a new skill. It’s a process of rediscovering a natural ability

Being creative isn’t a matter of learning a new skill. It’s a process of rediscovering a natural ability, being given the confidence to use it, and learning to recognize when and where to apply it in real-world situations.

We can start by giving our children permission to be curious, and by recognizing opportunities in everyday situations that will help them develop their own creativity.

It can be as simple as having a discussion about how they might handle something that happens in a movie you’re watching or story you’re reading them. By finding opportunities to teach by helping children learn to think for themselves, agile thinking and creative problem solving become second nature.

“Learning and Development experts are finally recognizing the value of informal learning in workplace training scenarios”

It’s a process called informal learning, and we do it every day whether we realize it or not. Learning and Development experts are finally recognizing the value of informal learning in workplace training scenarios. Studies show that 70 percent of what we learn about our job happens while doing our job.

Only 10 percent is incorporated through formal job training; the other 20 percent is picked up by observation.

That doesn’t mean that job training has no value. It’s important to learn specific procedures, methods, and regulations particular to that work environment.

“Educating tomorrow’s workers is a job for all of us

 

But beyond that, acumen and skill are gained partly by application and partly by interacting with other employees. This is where other critical skills like social intelligence and cross-cultural competency come into play.

You can impart those sensitivities to your kids by example through being open-minded and tolerant. Remember, children learn more by what they see, not by what you say.

Future jobs will have fewer entry-level positions available, and more people in line to fill them. Unskilled, low-wage work will be almost non-existent in 20 years or so thanks to automation.

Educating tomorrow’s workers and leaders is a job for all of us, parents, educators, and government organizations alike.

The old proverb that it takes a village to raise a child is still true. But, now it will also take the whole village to educate a child if we want him or her to succeed.

“Future jobs will have fewer entry-level positions available, and more people in line to fill them. Unskilled, low-wage work will be almost non-existent in 20 years or so thanks to automation.”

HOW CAN YOU PREPARE?

So is the situation hopeless? Are robots and artificial intelligence destined to replace our jobs and those of our children? While that may be the case for many, it doesn't need to be for you. Join the Unreplaceables and together we will make your family futureproof. 

JOIN THE UNREPLACEABLES FOR FREE!

HOW CAN YOU PREPARE?

So is the situation hopeless? Are robots and artificial intelligence destined to replace our jobs and those of our children? While that may be the case for many, it doesn't need to be for you. Join the Unreplaceables and together we will make your family futureproof. 

JOIN THE UREPLACEABLES FOR FREE!

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