Monday, January 10, 2011

Brave New World?

Recently, much has been made of the fact that a large percentage of the jobs that our students will hold in their lifetime have not been invented yet. I don’t know about you, but this initially struck fear in my heart as an educator. How can I prepare my students for a future that no one has conceived of yet?

Then I took a breath and realized, that even though I am in one of the oldest professions (not THE oldest), it is not the same job that I had even 10 years ago and certainly not the exact same job with the same tools that my teachers had back in the day (really old school). We have all adapted and changed to learn new tools. And have survived.

The question becomes, how did we do it? The speed of technological change has accelerated and we haven’t all completely answered questions about the intellectual and ethical implications of the change. At the same time, my great grandma lived during a time when there were no cars!

My proposal is that—like the granny I’m quickly becoming—I believe that we all have skills to offer young people to navigate change. Yes, they have skills to offer us—how to program our smart phones, how to play the latest games, how to customize an internet radio station. But we have patience, problem-solving strategies, and emotional intelligence (on our best days).

Let’s harness everybody’s strength to tackle the unknown—the mystery of the future is not a new challenge. Stay in conversation. The sum is greater than the parts. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what each generation has to offer the other and what we all have in common.