Inside Our Schools: Preparing youth for a world of rapid change

A five-year old child entering kindergarten this September will be a young adult of twenty-nine years old in the year 2042.

It is our duty as educators, in partnership with families, local government and the business sector, to prepare our young people for set of opportunities and challenges that will reflect a society very likely to be profoundly different from what the readers of this column have experienced.

For thousands of years, generation after generation, human beings lived in societies that changed slowly. There were some changes over time, of course. All cultures have contributed to our shared legacy. With the creation of writing systems and eventually the invention of paper, as well as innovations in travel, farming, and the use of electricity, humankind has shifted incrementally into an expanding urban species on the verge of profound changes. Educators must be on top of these trends and have the needed tools to prepare our children for their lives as adults.

Much of what today’s adults understand as public school has 19th Century roots. Classroom design, curriculum, and instructional practices have changed throughout the 20th Century, but at much slower pace than many other organizations in our society.

Based on the work of Ken Kay and Valerie Greenhill of EdLeader21, we have begun a process of developing our own local vision of a graduate. Shelton’s Vision of a Graduate (VoG) will evolve based on feedback from students, educators and families, but to begin, the key attributes we want our students make part of their lives are:

  •         Initiative and Self Direction

  •         Empathy

  •         Collaboration

  •         Creativity and Innovation

  •         Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

  •         Flexibility and Adaptability

Soon we will be sharing with the community how we plan to connect our VoG with our milestones of achievement to create and sustain a clear pathway of learning and growth for each student.

Vision is important. What is your vision of what our youth will need to know and be able to do as adults?

Ask candidates for political office that question, too! What is their vision for education? Of the future? Of the well-being of our youth? Do they have a vision?

We will pair our Vision of a Graduate work with ‘The Habits of Mind’ (Costa, Kallick) –more to follow on that- as a way to help our students develop the habits they will need to be confident seekers of opportunities and productive solvers of problems when they grow up.

Sara Ortloff Khoury, Director of UX Design at Google, in an August 29 blog post, “Designing the Future of Work” writes, “ The future is here. It’s happening now. Designers are expected to create not an app or a tool but ecosystems of intelligent multi-surface apps, data services, and cloud-enabled platforms. Artificial intelligence and access to big data are changing the work of designers faster than ever before.”

Our kindergarteners today, will be hopeful, confident 29 year-olds in 2042. They deserve our united community support. It is our duty to prepare them for the future of Shelton, of our state and nation, and the global interconnectedness that will frame their lives.

That needs to be part of our vision!