Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Jobs Of Tomorrow

The schools we have today evolved alongside, and many say as a part of, the Industrial Revolution. The assembly line was all the rage and it's efficiencies were brought to the classroom where (to borrow from Sir Ken Robinson) incomplete humans are sorted by "manufacture date," then sent on their straight-line journey from chapter to chapter, from text book to text book, from grade to grade, until, at the end they were stuffed full with education and ready to assume those "jobs of tomorrow" which would mostly involve standing at a factory assembly line performing the sort of repetitive, rote task for which they had been prepared.

Business efficiencies continue to be the enemy of education today, although the "jobs of tomorrow" are no longer assumed to be in factories (those are being shipped overseas), but rather service sector employment where "standardization" is the buzzword. They're attempting to standardize it all, from teacher evaluations to high stakes tests and curricula, with the ultimate goal of turning as much of the process as possible over to for-profit corporations because they will, in the mythology of neoliberalism, manufacture that education even more efficiently.

The idea of efficiency in education is an absurdity. The core idea is that if we subject children of the same age to the same information in the same manner at the same time, and if we are sufficiently rigorous, we will produce the kinds of workers they imagine they'll want two decades from now. It's all based on a sort of sociopathic fallacy. Children are not incomplete humans; they are already fully formed just as they are. Children are not primarily on this planet to fill job vacancies; they are here to create the future. Children cannot be standardized; each of them is a unique and wonderful person on a unique and wonderful journey. And anyone who claims to know anything about those "jobs of tomorrow" is blowing smoke; by the time our children assume their adult roles, those guys will be in nursing homes baffled by a world that has passed them by.

The purpose of education, particularly of the public variety, has nothing to do with jobs, but it has everything to do with tomorrow. Children don't follow in our footsteps, but rather walk along beside us so that they are prepared to carry on the journey when we give out. We help them along the way, teaching them what we know, sharing our experiences, not manufacturing them to some sort of specifications based upon yesterday, but supporting them as they become the human they need to be today. As they get older, they begin to show us a future that we can't imagine, seeing both farther and wider than us, just as we saw farther and wider than our elders.

We should not be preparing our children for the jobs of tomorrow. We should be preparing them to create their own future.

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1 comment:

Pixie said...

Those last two paragraphs were absolutely beautiful, a philosophy that echoes true for me too. Walking together with shared experiences and revelling in the variations in our visions of what's ahead, working together to keep it something beautiful and meaningful.