Friday, March 08, 2013

Still more on helping kids to learn, changing school indicators.

Continuing the theme of the last couple of posting, lets think about a child born today. That child will probably work until 2813. For children born in the United States and in most of the world, that work will be in a new economy. There will be many knowledge workers. There will probably be many jobs that don't require much skill or knowledge -- the fast food restaurants, etc. If the policies of their countries are appropriate there will be a number of jobs that involve intermediate levels of knowledge and skills -- working in far more automated occupations than did 20th century workers. We will need to prepare lots of kids for the knowledge jobs and the intermediate jobs.

I think that the rate of social, economic, political and technological change is likely to increase. Children born today are likely to live through greater changes than did people who were born 70 or 80 years ago. As voters they will have more complex issues with which to deal. As investors they will face a more rapidly changing economy. They will probably live longer, but have to deal with more complex health issues. Their children will face still more rapid change, so as parents the kids born today will face more challenging parenting. As workers they will face more rapidly changing workplaces, and will need to adapt more during their working lives.

Everyday life 70 years ago
It has been said that it takes 10.000 hours to develop expertise today. I think that it will be necessary to shorten that period for the children born today. A part of that can be through the automation of expert judgement and behavior. A child born today should find that he/she will be interacting with smarter machines, and indeed with machines that can help with expert consultation and advice, and that can help develop expertise.

One of the objectives of education for the children born today will be to help them learn to develop expertise quickly and well. That will mean learning how to learn quickly. It will also mean developing attitudes that embrace change when necessary or appropriate to do so, and to resist changes in values that are repugnant to morality or other important cultural values. It will include developing an enthusiasm for acquiring new information and developing new skills as well as a willingness to abandon outdated knowledge and no longer useful skills.

An important part of the life of the children being born today will be to create the rapid progress that will change their world and that of their children. Lots of them will be involved in creating new knowledge and new technology. Lots of them will be involved in protecting the environment and civilization from the unwanted side effects of progress. Again, schools will have to help students learn to create knowledge and technology, to protect the environment and society, and to care deeply about doing so.

It will be interesting to see how schools develop indicators to monitor their success in helping students to learn these things.


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