Skip to main content

Schools and the Changing Nature of Work

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" 

Who among us wasn't asked this question during our formative years? How many of us, even after many years, are still searching for the answer to this question? Futurists, technologists, and economic analysts seemingly have differing predictions about the rapidly changing nature of modern work. There is, however, a complete agreement that change is occurring at an exponential rate. What are the implications of this rapid change in our schools? How can we best meet the needs of students knowing this context of exponential modernization?



The impact that accelerating progress has on the job market and overall economy is poised to defy much of conventional wisdom.- Martin Ford

Approximately three-quarters of Americans (77%) think it’s realistic that robots and computers might one day be able to do many of the jobs currently done by humans.

Educational attainment impacts how we view workplace technology. Ninety percent of surveyed workers with college degrees think workplace technology positively affects their jobs or careers, as opposed to just the forty-five percent of surveyed workers who have attained up to a high school diploma. 

Roughly twice as many Americans express worry (72%) than enthusiasm (33%) about a future in which robots and computers are capable of doing many jobs that are currently done by humans. (Pew Research Center)

How should schools help prepare students for ever-increasing systems of automation? David Culberhouse, knowing this rapidly changing context, says, "Preparing students for this automated, augmented, artificially intelligence infused future is difficult to imagine, let alone prepare effectively for, both as individuals and organizations."

With such unpredictability, what are schools left to do? Forget answers momentarily, are educators asking the right questions? Education Week's, Benjamin Herold, asks, "What skills will today's students need? Will the jobs available now still be around in 2030? Should every kid learn to code? What about apprenticeships, career-and-technical education, and "lifelong learning?"

The following practices will help educators increase their relevance as facilitators of modern learning.

  1. Engage in discussions about the modern contexts of learning and work.
  2. Recognize many traditional pedagogical strategies may not be applicable in modern learning contexts.
  3. Continually engage as learners to gain insights, skills, and adaptations to better support students with relevant learning experiences.

Michael Chui, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, suggests, "It's incumbent that we prepare young people for a world of constant uncertainty." Arizona State University professor James Paul Gee, adds, "Each person needs the skills to make some kind of contribution to a changing world with a lot of problems that need solving." Emily Liebtag suggests the following strategies for getting students ready for the gig economy:

  • Engage students in meaningful work
  • Help students discover a passion and make social contributions
  • Provide students with personalized and authentic feedback

The uncertainty of the future of work has many people, including teachers, worried about their jobs and earning potential. However, futurists and economists agree that new age workers will need to be adaptable, collaborative, and willing learners to contribute in a modern workforce. 

Skilled educators need not worry, for it's practically guaranteed a modern workforce will need, as much as ever, coaches, trainers, and learning facilitators to help keep laborers and professionals viable in their respective careers. Tom Vander Ark, citing Pearson research for Getting Smart, states, "...both knowledge and skills will be required for the future economy."

References and Related Reading

Ark, Tom Vander. "The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030." Getting Smart. October 04, 2017. http://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/09/the-future-of-skills-employment-in-2030/?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Getting_Smart&utm_content= The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030.

Herold, Benjamin. "The Future of Work Is Uncertain, Schools Should Worry Now." Education Week. September 27, 2017. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/09/27/the-future-of-work-is-uncertain-schools.html.

Liebtag, Emily. "Getting Students Ready for the Gig Economy." Getting Smart. July 13, 2017. http://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/07/getting-students-ready-for-the-gig-economy.

Smith, Aaron, and Monica Anderson. "Automation in Everyday Life." Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. October 04, 2017. http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/10/04/automation-in-everyday-life/.

"That World Doesn’t Exist Anymore…." DCulberhouse. September 26, 2017. https://dculberh.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/that-world-doesnt-exist-anymore/.
Kamenetz, Anya. "3 Things People Can Do In The Classroom That Robots Can't." NPR. August 02, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/08/02/479187579/3-things-people-can-do-in-the-classroom-that-robots-cant.

photo credit: greg.simenoff Hard at work- via photopin (license)

Comments

Aaron Davis said…
Interesting as always Bob. You might also be interested in checking out this post from Doug Belshaw (https://dougbelshaw.com/blog/2016/05/19/future-of-work/). I also really think that Culberhouse's blog is a wealth of provocation.

Popular posts from this blog

Digital Badges for Teacher Professional Development

Increasingly, digital badges are becoming a topic of discussion for educators. A digital badge is a digitized token of recognition for acquiring a skill, demonstrating a competency, or for sharing knowledge gained from the completion of an activity or project. As more of our learning comes by way of digital connections and contributions, badges are becoming a more prominent method of acknowledging skills and accomplishments. Many teachers readily acknowledge the importance of personalization of learning for students. Shouldn't professional development experiences offer the same promise? Ask a typical teacher to describe their PD experiences in a single word and you will likely get responses such as irrelevant or  boring . Besides personalization and relevance, digital badges provide opportunities for teachers to discuss the skills and knowledge that support educational best practice, and professional growth. These conversations support the form and function of profession

"Five Reasons Why Schoology Rocks!"

Networking at IETC last week provided me validation in my choice for best learning management system, Schoology . Having used Moodle, Edmodo, Canvas, and Blackboard, I can tell you that these are all terrific products for digital instruction. However, for the past several months, I felt that Schoology was a better choice than these previously mentioned products. Many times, asking the right questions is a precursor to making sound decisions. Here's an article that serves as a guide to asking the right questions when choosing a learning management system: 10 Questions Everyone Should Ask When Choosing an LMS Here are five reasons why Schoology remains my #1 choice for a classroom LMS: Full-featured classroom organization tools, a collaborative learning place for teachers and students, device-independent applications, Schoology API  allows the program to play nicely with others, and the basic level instructional components are, and will always be, FREE. 1.  School

My One Word for 2018 is Wisdom

Wisdom, according to Dictionary.com , is "the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight." "Any fool can know. The point is to understand." This quote, often incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein , provides an illustration of the value of understanding over knowledge. A simple search reveals this quote can be linked to the writing of mathematician, George Finlay Simmons .  Narrowing my thinking to one word is an interesting challenge. I have gained a greater appreciation for words and how the combination of words can convey meaning beyond definitions, beyond knowledge. Where are the resources for knowledge in a modern world? We purchased an Amazon Echo as a gift for my parents. "It's such a smart and funny device," says my mom. Alexa has a seemingly unlimited access to information, music, and jokes, but does she understand? Can