The year 1991 marked an important turning point in the American work force. For the first time money spent on Knowledge Age goods – information and communication technologies – exceeded Industrial Age good – materials for agriculture, mining, manufacturing, etc. That $5 billion difference marked a shift in the U.S. economy from a world that was all nuts-and-bolts to one that was information-driven. The world had become high-tech, almost overnight.
The problem is that not much really changed in K-12 education to echo that tremendous shift. Sure there are more computer labs, and kids know how to use PowerPoint, but is that really any different than typewriters and shorthand classes of long ago? Has the thinking really changed, or have we simply updated the tools?
Elementary age students of today will face a completely different job market in their adult lives than the one our educational system is currently designed to support. They will be knowledge workers relying on digital tools, creativity and an ability to work collaboratively with people from all over the world. Out-of-the-box thinking will need to be their norm. They will change careers and companies many times over the course of their adult lives, which requires flexibility and adaptability, not to mention the ability to transplant what they have learned in one industry into a completely different one, with new rules and expectations.
The future is already here. What are you going to do about?