Are you preparing your students for the jobs of the future?


Last month I received an email from someone at the Institute for the Future, a think tank in Palo Alto, CA that contracts with companies to forecast future trends.  In their email to me they said they were working for a major handset manufacturer (i.e. cell phone maker) to, as they put it, “undercover leading edge behaviors and tech enablers that will help inform and shape their future products and services.”  Apparently they had been following my classroom audio updates on after reading a blog post about my use of Cinch, a podcast by phone service that I used last year.   Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was listening to Marketplace on the radio when I heard an interview with Marina Gorbis, executive director of IFTF on a series that Marketplace was doing about “Jobs of the Future”.  Isn’t it funny how something you’ve never heard of can pop into your life multiple times like that within a short period of time?  Anyhow, you can listen to the story here, but I was struck by the fact that, according to Gorbis and other future job experts, the skills our workers will need are predicted to be more creative, higher order thinking  kinds of skills.  That got me thinking, how are teachers in classrooms providing students with the kinds of experiences that teach these skills?  In what way can teachers leverage technology to help teach these 21st century skills?  And too, when I was in the classroom, was I providing student with expereinces that would help them gain the necessary skills for the future job market?  The report went on to say:

“That's why Gorbis says emphasize creative problem-solving. Schools can teach it; it's usually done in group exercises. They can take a lot of class time, but Gorbis says creative problem-solving is a key to innovation, and a necessary skill in a lot of the new jobs created by all those smart machines that are destroying some old jobs.”

Ultimately, if and when I make it back to the classroom, I have no choice but to do a better job designing lessons and activities that force students to work together, utilize technology and  be more creative in the process.