“The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
Nowhere is this quote truer than when examining the incredible changes we’ve seen in our lifetimes in the areas of science and technology, communications, and mass media and the relatively little change that has occurred in our education systems over the same time period.
In the past 250 years, our economy and culture has experienced a rapid series of changes, which can be summarized as “Four Industrial Revolutions.” Essentially, our ability to develop more sophisticated machines over time to complete increasingly complex tasks has changed our society from one primarily based on agriculture to our modern, diversified economy.
One of the few areas of our society that hasn’t been drastically changed is our system for educating our children. Our current education system, a product of the “Second Industrial Revolution,” was developed to train illiterate farmers to become semi-literate factory workers. Many of the structures that we practice today in our schools were implemented to help achieve this goal. The organization of the curriculum into discrete subjects, the division of the school day into fixed periods, and the sorting of students by their age into grades are all examples of a system organized to produce workers who were ready for the assembly line. In this school system, the transmission of information from teacher to student was a key component. Success in this system was measured by how much information a student could memorize and repeat.
We know now that the changes brought about by the 3rd and 4th Industrial Revolutions have made many of the skills stressed in our education system obsolete. The rise of the internet has changed the nature of information from scarcity to over-abundance. We now hold more computing power in our smartphones than was used by NASA to land astronauts on the moon. We can also find the answer to almost any question we may have by asking Siri, Google or Alexa. Information is now essentially “free,” thereby reducing our reliance on the need to memorize and recall facts. These new times will certainly call for the mastery of a different set of skills by our students.
Over the past few months, I’ve asked the faculty of the Masconomet Regional School District to think about what learning and school should look like in order to best prepare students to be successful in this future. During last month’s professional development time, the faculty explored the question: “What knowledge, skills and dispositions do our students need to master in order to be successful in the future?”
As the District’s Leadership Team and I reviewed the results of this work, we wondered how parents and other members of the Masconomet Community might respond to this question. Rather than just speculating, we decided to ask you directly. Please complete the brief (one question) survey below, so we can gather your feedback on what you feel is important for students to know and be able to do as a result of their Masconomet Education. The survey will be open until Monday December 2nd. Once the survey window closes, we will publish the community’s survey results along with the faculty’s responses. Your feedback will help us to design a school system to best prepare students for whatever comes next.
P.S.: For more information on some of the amazing changes that are happening in schools across the country, please look at the Innovation Playlist from Ted Dintersmith.