I’m reading a book by Seth Godin – Linchpin: Are you Indespensable? While I’m only at the beginning of the book, I’ve begun to be struck by the content held within. Godin discusses how we’ve seen the “traditional” idea of what a job is disappear. No longer is college an option if you want to have a fighting chance in today’s struggling, high-risk economy. Although likewise, it’s easier now than ever in history to be successful without a college degree, as seen by many corporate titans of today’s world:
- Richard Schultz (Best Buy founder)
- Ralph Lauren
- Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Records and Virgin Air)
- Michael Dell (Dell computers)
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft)
- Bill Gates (co-founder & Chairman fr Microsoft)
- Steve Jobs
I’ve also come across many articles lately discussing the declining of common middle-class jobs (simply Google Technology, Trade, and middle-class jobs). The way of life that Americans used to know, in which you could get a job without a specialized training, is becoming less and less of a reality. The reason why
Technology is rapidly replacing all of the common jobs that the average Joe used to take pride in. It seems that humanity is building machines to handle what a non-skilled worker used to be able to do for less cost (no insurance!), increased safety and even better quality. Take for example Google’s car experiment. In the several years that Google has had a driver-less car on the road there have only been a handful of accidents. The funny part? All of those accidents are due to other driver’s errors!
It’s debatable that technology isn’t actually taking away jobs, rather its only causing a stronger divide between the wealthy and the poor, virtually eliminating the middle-class.
What is our part in this?
We can no longer teach the way we did 15, 20, 50 years ago. The problems of today are different then they were back then. Our education system was designed to give the average citizen an equal opportunity to succeed in an economy full of non-skilled job opportunities. They paid well and you could retire decently.
This is no longer the case
Our students have to graduate with one vitally important skill – problem solving. If my students complete high school and they haven’t memorized the quadratic or Universal gravitation equations yet they are able to effectively communicate and problem solve – then I consider it a job well-done. Our courses need to shift from memorization and recall to discovery learning and problem solving.
I’m convinced that standardized testing would fail to assess the type of student/person that is capable of succeeding in today’s economy. Memorizing vocabulary and good writing skills are such a small part of the battle. I want my students to be CEO’s, startup managers, financiers, scientists and more! They will never get there if they haven’t figured out how to work with a group of individuals to solve a problem, if they haven’t fostered a creative spirit and attitude toward learning.
We need to gear our students away from answering the question of “What is…” something, to “What if…?” something!