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Future Shifts

CUE Future

future“We are getting kids ready for jobs that do not exist” has been a mantra of frustration that has been bandied about the educational ecosystem for far more than the last several years.  A mantra that I believe to not only be wrong focused, but an inhibitor of change for (1) it’s predictive element relieves the system of real responsibility, necessity and urgency for any type of deep, exponential shift(s), and (2) the unknowing element of the statement can continue to allow us to insulate the system from better awareness of changes that are currently and constantly occurring across society that necessitate an educational mind shift.

When the future becomes a guessing game, when we focus on the unpredictability that we currently face, we have a tendency to recoil back to the known, back to the familiar, both as individuals and as organizations.  We often allow the fear of this vast unknown to entrench us in the status quo of the past and present.

What we have to begin to realize is that we are not getting kids ready for jobs that are yet to exist…We are preparing them to be agile and adaptable in the face of profound shifts.

This will eventually require some very deep shifts in our systems, our focus, our structures, processes, and even our beliefs and behaviors. Just as we remain content-focused in a skills-based world, change will be necessary in a societal landscape that is being driven relentlessly forward by the exponential pace of technology and digital disruption.

What has driven education in the past, is no longer sufficient or necessarily relevant for the future.

However, this is not some new phenomena, in fact, the world of work has been very open about the skills necessary for future success and how those skill-sets are changing, especially as technological abilities in robotics and artificial intelligence continue to disrupt the workplace.

We continue to see skills such as critical thinking, creativity, adaptive and agile thinking, social and emotional intelligence, cognitive flexibility and load management, and collaborative and design attributes gaining greater traction as necessary and needed for those in and/or moving into the present and future workforce. Whatever those skills are or will be in the future, awareness will be paramount in preparing our future generation to be agile and adaptable to these profound shifts we now face.

futureHowever, it will not only be individuals that will need to become adaptable learners, remaining agile to our exponentially shifting world we now live in…so must our educational organizations if they are to remain significant, dynamic, relevant hubs of learning, innovation, and transformation in the face of these seismic shifts and changes.

Editor Note: This post is a synopsis of David’s mini e-book: “Surviving and Thriving in a VUCCA World”. Find the full text here: Ebook


DavidDavid Culberhouse: Educator, Ideapreneurial, Exponential Mindset, Social Architect, CUE Rockstar Admin Faculty, TEDx, Facilitator for NISL, Proactively Designing the Future… @DCulberhouse

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David Culberhouse

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I’ve been gathering my ideas over the past hour or so about how to share my observations on your thoughts. I’m on my third draft. Anyway, here’s what I think I can best share. I’m 62. Looking back through this lens I have to say that by 1974, the year I graduated high school, I mostly lacked practical skills like balancing a checkbook. I didn’t know how to shop in a grocery store in such a way as to make the most of my meager salary. The problem of schools not teaching kids to be ready for jobs that don’t exist yet has been around for a long time. Practical application of skills taught in school was what was missing then and, I earnestly believe, is where school fall short now.

    I think schools and teachers best serve kids by teaching them how to channel frustration and curiosity. Sadly, for the most part I learned how to leverage curiosity later, serving in the US Navy and working in industry.

    I agree with what you shared. But I didn’t get that you see where curiosity and initiative come into play. The teaching and skills gap has been around for a while now. But until our schools and teachers provide students with learning experiences where, through curiosity and experimentation, they identify problems and solutions future kids will be in much the same boat as I was in 1974.

    Design learning experiences that enable kids to exercise their innate curiosity. Develop lessons that draw on kids’ interests and engage them. Implement collaborative activities where kids can share perspectives. That’s the ticket.

  • Thank you for the response and great thoughts, Urbie. While it is touched upon in the attached ebook (discovery, experimentation, curiosity), it is not as prevalent in this post and ebook as you might find in my blogs. The focus was really pushing towards building greater awareness of the societal shifts that are happening around us, the acceleration of change, and the level of adaptive leadership that will be needed to better support our educational organizations in the future. Which is going to require greater levels of ongoing learning, initiative, curiosity, creativity and innovative, experimental, discovery learning not only for the students, but from us as educators.

  • David, thank you for this post and articulating the thought: “What we have to begin to realize is that we are not getting kids ready for jobs that are yet to exist…We are preparing them to be agile and adaptable in the face of profound shifts.”

    Indeed, the notion of “preparing kids for jobs that do not yet exist” leads to the same kind of determinism and tunnel vision that characterizes the least progressive elements of the current educational system.

    Please allow me to make an additional point. In our haste to provide education that enables students to be “agile and adaptable” we must also beware of the limitation of a “one-size-fits-all” approach. We need, I believe, to also design in a greater appreciation for student diversity in our future education. Students’ life trajectories will propel then in directions that will require differential amounts of creative agility and adaptability.

    For example, the health sector is predicted to be one of the big growth areas in the future. However, the greatest demand will be for people in low-income caretaking roles, where they will be expected to apply protocols and follow directions. In settings such as those, exercise of high levels of creativity could lead to frustration among employees, employers, and clients.

    Where I’m headed with this is to say that everyone does not have to be prepared for a role as a leader and decision-maker. Teamwork requires effective team members, of which there will be greater numbers than team leaders. Different kinds of people aspire to different kinds of functions.

    I agree with Urbie that emphasizing student-centered, collaborative problem solving may be our current best way to move in a direction that will bear the greatest good for the greatest number.