What Parents Need to Know About Education for the 21st Century
We have to enhance the education system in order to incorporate the skills needed to be able to excel in the dynamic future that lies ahead.
The age of information has come to an end. In the past International Conference of Thinking in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the World acknowledged the beginning of a new era in the history of human development: the Age of Intelligence. We are living in exponential times. In this new era where technology connects the mind and ideas of an individual with the minds and ideas of millions around the world, society evolves at a sometimes frightening velocity. It is pivotal for every segment of modern society to keep up with the other. However, the educational system in the United States still educates under the parameters of an era that ended more than 50 years ago (the industrial age), where children are raised to be workers and not thinkers. If we want our children to be competitive, not only with the person next door, but with everyone else around the world, it is imperative that the U.S. make some serious revision in the education we are providing our children.
- The top ten in demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004.
- The amount of technical information is doubling every two years (half of what a student in a 4-year technical degree learns the first year will be outdated by his third year of study).
- Digital information doubles every 11 hours.
- The performance power of computers doubles every 18 months.
- India has more honor students than America has students.
According to Dr. David Perkins of Harvard University, “We are now educating for the unknown.” In previous generations, the life of the average person was dictated by a predictable cycle: finish high school, get a degree, get a job, and save for retirement. Ultimately, their children would do the same. Today’s changing world however, requires an ability for constant adaptation, and a set of skills learned for a single job will no longer be enough to sustain a person throughout his lifetime. Jobs and tasks like accounting, among others, are now done by software. The students of today must prepare themselves for fierce competition, not only against people around the world, who share the same access to information, but also against the growing capability of technology.
Therefore, we have to enhance the education system in order to incorporate the skills needed to be able to excel in the dynamic future that lies ahead. It is no longer enough to supply students with information to memorize, for information is now only a click away. Instead, we need to educate the individual on how to use information in a way that is current and effective in today’s society. For that reason, education in the age of intelligence must provide a dynamic process where learning to learn, learning to think, thinking to learn, and thinking to think, are the goals.
The age of intelligence is already here. We need a whole new mind, one that is more flexible and adaptable. A mind that can process and synthesize information faster thinks wider and creates practical solutions in a blink. We need to develop strong ethical and moral values, so that the human being is highly aware of his/her personal responsibility with the planet and the community. We need to create a society of tolerance, built on communication, empathy and understanding of others.
In the U.S. there are schools already working towards this direction. Among others; Traverse City public schools in Michigan, the public schools from the Three County project in Michigan, the Center for Excellence in Miami and Education First Inc schools in Broward Florida.
Our educational system does not have the necessary elements to develop the skills and abilities that today’s world is demanding. Very few schools are really aware of the challenges, the needs or how to implement a key learning process that fulfills the demands. Parents need to look for those schools. Communities have to work with leaders and policy makers to restructure an educational system that is still educating for the 1,900s.