Jan 12: As technology changes and industries advance, so too must our education system in order to prepare the next generation workforce. What are we doing to prepare students for jobs of the future—jobs that may not even exist yet—that require technologies we have yet to discover, in order to solve problems we are not even aware of?

Accordingly, programs need to be flexible, allowing teachers to approach learning from new and thought provoking ways. Through industry exposure, a focus on technical trades and integration of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning, for example, educators can employ applied learning methods to connect students with real world experiences.

Technology advancements have long been blamed for displacing traditional jobs. Take, for example, the cotton gin, the automotive assembly line, and even the introduction of IBM at NASA. Today’s advancements are happening at a much quicker pace. We need to prepare students to take on new challenges and adapt to new ways of doing things.

Rather than seeing technology as a threat to traditional employment, we need to be teaching our students to understand these technologies and how to work with them. We need to continue to develop critical thinkers who will drive the future economy and global competitiveness.

Sources say, only 40 percent of schools in the U.S. report having computer science programs, through classes or clubs, neither of which are required curriculum.. However, programs such as Code.org are working with middle and high schools across the country to expand access to computer science programs for students. Facebook, Microsoft and other leading technology powerhouses lend support for this program that is teaching coding to a future base of this growing workforce.

Organizations should be dedicated to changing the way classrooms are structured, with an emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving, in addition to traditional academic curriculum. Through deeper learning, students are able to tackle real world situations using skills and knowledge learned from subjects, such as math and science, while working together with their peers to develop solutions.

The business community can become actively involved. Instead of widening the gap of what students are learning, and what they need to be prepared for the real world, businesses can be proactive by working with school boards, superintendents and principals by supporting and calling for programs and curriculum around applied learning, STEM (acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics) integration and innovation in the classroom.

A shift in our focus from preparing students for test taking and college entrance needs to occur. It will better serve students by preparing them for innovation, and a 21st century global economy, making them ready to take on in-demand jobs. (adopted from The Hill)

 

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