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Do Predictions Impact the Education System?

Published on Nov 28, 2016.


Do Predictions Impact the Education System?

At this year’s ISTE conference, the opening Keynote address was from futurist and physicist, Michio Kaku.  He took a look back at history and then we looked at areas of our lives that would have been considered science fiction only 50 years ago.  But, the heart of his keynote was talking about the near and distant future.  What will medicine look like in the future?  How will transportation look?  How will our homes look?  To look ahead 20, 50, or even a 100 years is fun and just a little bit terrifying.

The question that has been plaguing me as an educator, and specifically as one who is trying to shape the future of education, is “Do predictions impact the school system?”  The rhetoric of the media is that our children are failing in schools.  And by failing, they mean that they are not passing the standards of the ideal student in the 1950’s.  Unfortunately, that rhetoric is what drives educational policy and finance.

I am much more interested in finding ways to assess a student by means that will know if they are ready to live in the year 2025 or even 2050.  Regardless of what schools do, there will always be the handful of Einstein’s and Kaku’s that are designing a future that we will buy and we will embrace.  But are we ready to participate in shaping that world?  Are we preparing students to manage and sift the glut of information?  Are we preparing students who will know when the best tool for their task is a digital tool or an analog tool?

Generally speaking, I think the answer to those questions is “No.”  We are not preparing our students for the future in most of the cases.  But what is the best way to prepare students?  How do we assess students for the year 2030 or beyond?  What “facts” of science will change in the next five years that students will need to adapt?  What inventions will emerge that will remove job opportunities for our students?

I would like to hear our reader’s thoughts on these questions.  Here is a short and incomplete list of my ideas for preparing our students for the future:

  1. Reading Critically.  A graduate needs to be able to read short and long written documents, understand the perspective of the author, compare those viewpoints to others views and recognize the logical fallacy in the process.

  2. Reading Data.  A graduate needs to be able to create or read a report based on data and facts.  As they read it, they need to be able to recognize problems with the report, implications of the information and know how to respond to the report.

  3. Adapting to Change.  A graduate needs to know that change is essential for progress.  They need to know when change threatens their core values and when change is just uncomfortable.

  4. Understanding History.  A graduate needs to know how to learn from history so we can avoid the mistakes of our past.

  5. Learning how to Learn.  A graduate needs to know how to use today’s tools to develop habits of life-long learning.

What are the essentials that you believe our students need to have to meet their future?

Eric Kellerer
Director, NNU Doceō Center​
Twitter: @ejkellerer