Educators need to understand as much about the future as possible in order to teach the future today! Does this mean that there is no place for teaching history? Of course not. We need to teach students that the past is fertile ground for learning many lessons they can use to shape and literally create a positive future.
What about the three Rs — Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic? They are all relevant today and will be relevant tomorrow. However, we need to add the three Cs — Change, Creativity, and Communication.
Is our current school curriculum obsolete? No, but it is far from complete. English, math, science, history, art, music — all of the traditional subjects — will remain extremely important. How they are taught will change greatly with the increasing use of technology, but the subject categories of today are good.
Many subjects that teach interpersonal skills, such as sports and music, are being cut back at the present time but shouldn’t be. Foreign language skills can no longer be neglected. Two languages, at minimum, should be introduced when children are in the lower elementary grades when the ability to learn languages is at a peak, instead of waiting for junior or senior high when the ability has begun to atrophy.
We must widen our children’s horizons so they understand that the economy of the 21st century will be global in scope and they will be a part of it.
In my book Technotrends® I listed a set of 21st century basics that students would need to master in order to thrive in the future. The list is reprinted here and is meant to stimulate your thinking and help you create your own list, one that you feel is relevant for your children’s, or if you are a teacher your students’, future.
- Ability to demonstrate adaptability in a rapidly changing environment.
- Ability to communicate orally.
- Ability to work in collaboration with others.
- Ability to identify and apply the benefits of cultural diversity.
- Ability to identify and apply the benefits of being observant.
- Ability to identify and apply the benefits derived from service to others.
- Ability to focus and apply creative problem solving techniques.
- Ability to apply memorization techniques.
- Ability to learn new skills and assimilate new ideas quickly.
- Ability to take initiative and be self directed.
- Ability to apply abstract thinking techniques.
- Ability to identify problems and develop solutions.
- Ability to apply negotiating skills while demonstrating personal responsibility.
- Ability to demonstrate technological literacy in problem solving.
- Ability to apply computer technology to enhance task performance.
- Ability to find and communicate paper-based and digital information.
If we keep these student basics in mind — all of them are aimed at providing an education that is not frozen in time but upgradable in response to change — then there will be great latitude when it comes to teaching specific content.
The subject of the future has a self motivating component to it for all students. Let’s face it, they will spend the rest of their lives in the future. The more they know about it now, the more prepared they will be to thrive in it.