Last week I talked about the fact that we are in the middle of a major revolution in the area of education not seen since the invention of the Gutenberg press. The revolution of the printing press was that everyone could learn to read. Prior to the printing press it was only a select few who got the opportunity to learn to read and write. We are now living through a similar revolution with the invention of the internet but this time what it means is that everyone can learn to publish.
One of the responsibilities that comes with this new capability is educating our children to live in a world where this is possible. A very important skill that we need to teach our children is that of discernment; the ability to see and read all of this newly published material and be able to critically evaluate the validity of what is being said or promoted.
This revolution brings with it a whole new set of skills our children will be expected to have. However, right now most schools are just attempting to transfer current skills, taught for decades, and overlay them on to this new paradigm. What schools have not begun to comprehend yet is that reading and writing on the web takes different decoding skills than paper and we need to make sure that we are teaching them those skills.
Three skills that our students are going to need for the future are:
- Information Discernment: The amount of information available to our children is mind boggling. It is estimated that 40 exabytes of (4.0 x 10) of unique new information will be generated this year alone. Our children will need to know how to find, evaluate, and consume this information quickly, efficiently, and correctly.
- Collaboration: With this revolution comes a “new” skill of how to create effective collaboration. Our students will need to know how to build “communities” that help them in both their professional and personal life. The successful person of the future will not be the one who knows how to solve the problem but instead is the one who knows how to bring together quickly the right people who can.
- Self-Direction: Our children will have at their fingertips the ability to be much more self-directed and less dependent on others to create new possibilities. They will be able to own a lot more of their learning and will need to understand the importance of being a self-directed person. Even now corporations, when asked what they are looking for in new employees, place “self-directed” at the top of their lists.
This revolution we are living through brings with it powerful opportunities for our students. But as the superhero Spiderman once said “With great power comes great responsibility.” That responsibility not only lies with our students but with us as educators and you as parents. It’s an exciting “new world” out there and it will be important that we make sure our children are well prepared for it.