Nobody can say what the world will look like in 5 years, much less in 65 years. However, children born this year will be retiring in 2071, and soon they will enter schools expected to prepare them for this future.
In a past article, we discussed the jobs that will be lost in the future. Not that the entire purpose of K-12 education is to prepare children for the job market, it's also not an irrelevant function of schools. As machines take on more and more simple and repetitive tasks, people will have more and more free time (sometimes not by choice) and the only places where human input will be necessary will be areas where fine manual dexterity, processing new situations and coming up with novel solutions/approaches/viewpoints (creativity) &/or social intelligence are required.
In this week's article, Sir Ken Robinson, British author, speaker and international advisor in education, speaks about the necessary changes in focus in public education.
Below is the video of his TED Talk. If you're not up for the video, brief synopsis is below the video.
Sir Robinson makes the point that the system of public education we have today was developed to meet the needs of the industrial revolution. Public education, in this view, currently serves two purposes. First is to train children to be workers in an industrial society, thereby emphasizing subjects most useful for work at the expense of others. Second purpose is to serve as a protracted process of university entrance, where academic ability has become equated with intelligence.
Intelligence comes in many forms, and some children find that their intelligence is sometimes not valued or even stigmatized in school. Intelligence is also dynamic and interactive. Interactions of the visual, kinetic, auditory and other brain functions comprise intelligence. Creativity, or the process of having ideas with value, often comes from the interaction of different ways of seeing things. Intelligence is also distinct and differently advantageous to different endeavors for each person.
Public education has been mining humanity for certain kinds of intelligence that serves a certain purpose. In the coming post-industrial economy that will focus on knowledge work, all of human capacity for intelligence and creativity will be valuable. Continuing to educate children in this way, discouraging certain kinds of intelligence and rewarding kids who exhibit other kinds of intelligence, will be tremendously wasteful.