Year-end, Part I.

I don’t know why I would conclude a post name with “Part I,” when due to the schedule I am keeping these days, there is no guarantee there will be a “Part II,” but I guess it’s wishful writing.  Unless you are living in solitary confinement or have taken a holiday break job as a fire lookout, you’ve seen the onslaught of year-end posts that have been funneling through your mailbox, reader, or inbox.  For me, it’s a great lesson in how to deal with information overload.  Every one of these year-end recaps always points to some future point where the ills we’ve either created or ignored in the previous year can be righted.  This from Tom Friedman in the 12/23 NYT:

That’s why we don’t just need a bailout. We need a reboot.
We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover.
That is why the next few months are among the most important in U.S.
history. Because of the financial crisis, Barack Obama has the
bipartisan support to spend $1 trillion in stimulus. But we must make
certain that every bailout dollar, which we’re borrowing from our
kids’ future, is spent wisely.

Earlier in the article, he alluded to the many ills that plague our great nation, taking a stab at our livelihood in stating that we have “…public schools with no national standards to prevent illiterates from graduating…”  and as Clay so rightly put it in his comment on this via Twitter:


It’s context, I understand, and Friedman as making a point about the state of innovation in America–all things I agree with him on here.  But I know that standards as we’ve come to expect them from the federal government are not ones I want placed upon me or the students I work for.

I’ve got this statement stuck in my mind this week, and it’s one that has appeared in various forms over the years:

“the most important skill of the future may be the ability to forget what you’ve learned, and learn something new.” —by Patrick Tucker, Senior Editor, THE FUTURIST

The feedback I’ve gotten on this one so far has been slightly comical, but let’s break it down over the next few days.  What does it mean for us if what we know, what we are competent in, no longer makes our livelihoods stable?  In education, we tend to feel immune to the fluctuations of the job market.  But what if we are not?  What if the profound changes that the futurists are predicting, these disruptive innovations, happen sooner rather than later?  This is something I’d like to look into over the course of the next few days, time permitting…


4 thoughts on “Year-end, Part I.

  1. I think that Tucker is really referring to less reliance on mastering Content. Some Skills will continue to be important: the ability to assess information, incorporate new learning into existing frameworks, communicate effectively, work collaboratively, etc.

    I do believe that a shift from traditional teaching to more facilitating and co-learning is necessary. This might be the educational change that will cause the most upheaval but will yield the greatest results.

  2. Hi Diane,

    Thanks for the comment. As I am reading through this post and your comment, I can’t help but think that this is one of those posts that was fired off a little too soon. For example, I wrote this: “But I know that standards as we’ve come to expect them from the federal government are ones I want placed upon me or the students I work for,” but really meant to insert the word “not” after the “are.” Regardless, it’s fixed now.

    Tucker’s point, as you say, is just that: we can’t focus on our content anymore. The ruckus is going to come from shifting the mode to co-learning from what we are all used to and what we all experienced in our own schooling. What I am finding is that to break from what we are used to in the form of school is truly difficult for people to visualize, let alone practice in the classroom.

  3. Funny I should read this now, as just a few days ago these thoughts might not have hit very close to home. I am in the middle of reading Friedman’s book, The World Is Flat. Currently I am reading about the “Untochables” and the “New Middlers”. While for a long time I have assumed that my job as an educator was not something that could be lost by anything but my own failures, I am not so sure any more. And when taking into consideration what I have heard about Clayton Christensen’s Disrupting Class, I am getting even more worried.

    I think the world will turn out to move faster than predicted because of unforseem relationships between different aspects of the world around us.

    Although I am not 100% sold on The World Is Flat in its entirety (all five or six dog-eared pages out of 300 so far), there is some truth in it. Even educators need to start figuring out a way to make themselves “untouchable”. And when educators go so might education consultants an the like. In my opinion, virtual schools will start requiring less teachers and more technologists. I believe I even heard on NPR that ETS is working on a way to grade essays electronically, no person will ever have to actually read them.

    Indeed, the future of education and all its stakeholders is quite sketchy.

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