If I am to believe much of what I have read, education has not seriously begun to track the needs of the future world. The key problem in the U.S. is how education is funded, and content is determined at the local level. At that level, no one is thinking much about the future. There is usually no one there that looks, or even has the ability, to see much beyond tomorrow. Most are fixated in protecting the present. For the most part, the rest of the world deems education too important to be left to a thousand different school districts, so it is often handled at a national level.
The World Economic Forum estimates that sixty-five percent of children today will end up in careers that do not exist yet.
Someone needs to be looking at the rest of the world to find the best ways to educate our youth. The Finnish school system is starting to change the class curriculums at their secondary schools. They are allowing students to drop the subjects that don’t interest them, with no restrictions on which ones they want to combine. That sounds radical but radical is what is needed.
It is simply time for a paradigm shift in education to a place that fosters hiring based on skills, not credentials. There needs to be a much closer relationship between how business and education collaborate more effectively and where apprenticeships are the norm. MBAs foster short-term things like balance sheets, we need more long-term thinkers. They must become the focus of future education.
One encouraging step is that funding for education technology start-ups have tripled in the last two years. We are actually starting to consider what the 21st century student needs to learn to thrive in the coming ages. Charter schools are a good start, but by themselves will not get the job done.
In most school districts in the U.S. there is a trend to concentrate on the three R’s, reading, writing, and arithmetic. That focus is looking backwards, not forwards. It is impossible for anyone to learn everything that can be learned, but there are some fundamental things that are getting lost in the current way of doing school. Creativity is one of them. How to be a good citizen and think beyond yourself is another. That is obvious from all the disunity that pervades our daily lives.
One very fundamental thing is that we have to get back, at least to some degree, to the idea of “us” more than “me”. But, that seems impossible right now.