What do we really know about our kids’ future?

Still mesmerised by by my two new grandsons, and thinking more about their future, I’ve been interested to read the discussion stimulated by Will Richardson in his post, “What do we know about our kids future? Really?” He ponders his response to a question he was asked;

“Even though we can’t be certain about what the future looks like in terms of preparing our kids for it, what, generally speaking, do we know? What general characteristics can we assume in terms of rethinking our curriculum and our practice?”

He begins a list of the sorts of things he thinks our kids’ futures will require them to be. The list complements nicely the sorts of things I listed in my previous post, and points to a more holistic view of the competencies and capabilities that we envisage will be required, rather than narrow sets of skills or knowledge.

Will’s post has prompted a number of responses, each adding more ideas to the list. included is a response from Mike Maloy that points to the 2020 vision of the Brighton Central School District in Rochester, New York which lists a number of interesting documents and video clips to illustrate what they see as important for our kids in the future.

As a result, Miguel Guhlin has started a wiki listing the skills students’ futures require them to have that are emerging from these discussions, and Rodd Lucier has started a wiki of 21st Century Skills for Educators and another for students in his Let’s Ban Chalk series which list particular skills he sees emerging from these discussions.

It’s great to see these discussions going on, and more particularly, to note the common ideas and directions that are emerging – about learning to learn, culturally aware, a focus on inter and intra personal skills, and the need for a broad spectrum of literacies. This is particularly encouraging as it parallels the nearly two and a half years of a ‘co-constructivist’ approach to developing the current curriculum that has recently been launched here in New Zealand.

My hope is that now we can find ways, at a systemic level, of turning this talk and visioning into action! In addition to these lists what we now need is an exchange of ideas that will allow these ideas to be put into practice, taking into account a system that still has a strangle-hold on things like assessment practices, timetables, compulsory attendance, classes defined by age and room size etc etc. Unless we challenge (and change) these characteristics of the system itself we have little hope of fully realising the competencies that are emerging in these lists and discussions because the system itself is not designed to accommodate them.

Just to add another perspective, Bill Farren, a technology integration facilitator in the Dominican Republic, has created a response to Karl Fisch’s Did you know? slides that I included in my last post. Farren explores the future of the current paradigm of competition, productivity and economic growth, and asks, should people support the economy, or should the economy support people? Definitely worth a look:

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