Are We Preparing Students for Generation Flux?
This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers Of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier Of Business was recently published by Fast Company. It’s intent is to introduce and describe some of the key movers and shakers in the business world and includes danah boyd and Peter Cashmore. What is of particular to me, as an educator, is those factors that influenced their successes.
Some the key points from this article include:
The fast rate of change creates difficulties in predicting the future . . .
The pace of change in our economy and our culture is accelerating–fueled by global adoption of social, mobile, and other new technologies–and our visibility about the future is declining.
New technologies and social media are producing vast, significant change . . .
In an age where Twitter and other social-media tools play key roles in recasting the political map in the Mideast; where impoverished residents of refugee camps would rather go without food than without their cell phones; where all types of media, from music to TV to movies, are being remade, redefined, defended, and attacked every day in novel ways–there is no question that we are in a new world.
Being able to conceptualize today’s world in a single, static paradigm is impossible . . .
There is one certainty, however. The next decade or two will be defined more by fluidity than by any new, settled paradigm; if there is a pattern to all this, it is that there is no pattern. The most valuable insight is that we are, in a critical sense, in a time of chaos. Chaotic disruption is rampant.
Old and institutionalized models of problem-solving do not work for today’s problems in today’s institutions . . .
There’s a difference between the kind of problems that companies, institutions, and governments are able to solve and the ones that they need to solve. Most big organizations are good at solving clear but complicated problems. They’re absolutely horrible at solving ambiguous problems–when you don’t know what you don’t know. Faced with ambiguity, their gears grind to a halt (sounds like the current educational system).
The nostalgic “we’ve always done it that way” will lead to failure. A future-focus needs to drive change . . .
If ambiguity is high and adaptability is required, then you simply can’t afford to be sentimental about the past. Future-focus is a signature trait of Generation Flux. Nostalgia is a natural human emotion, a survival mechanism that pushes people to avoid risk by applying what we’ve learned and relying on what’s worked before. It’s also about as useful as an appendix right now. When times seem uncertain, we instinctively become more conservative; we look to the past, to times that seem simpler, and we have the urge to re-create them. But when the past has been blown away by new technology, by the ubiquitous and always-on global hypernetwork, beloved past practices may well be useless.
It is imperative to learn the technology tools of the day and these change daily . . .
It’s irresponsible not to use the tools of the day. If you master those things and stop, you’re just going to get killed by the next thing. Flexibility of skills leads to flexibility of options. To see what you can’t see coming, you’ve got to embrace larger principles.
Only those who are open and adaptable will survive . . .
To flourish requires a new kind of openness. More than 150 years ago, Charles Darwin foreshadowed this era in his description of natural selection: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives; nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” As we traverse this treacherous, exciting bridge to tomorrow, there is no clearer message than that.
21st Century and Workforce Skills
Organizations such as The Partnership for 21st Learning and Institute for the Future have proposed skills necessary to survive and thrive in the current and future workforce. But given as the article proposes, our visibility about the future is declining, even these might not address this Generation Flux.
Extracted from the article are the current 21st century skills needed in today‘s workforce: (Note that the words current and today are highlighted meaning that they might change in the near future.)
- Embraces instability.
- Learns to recalibrate thoughts, actions, attitudes based on what is what is being presented.
- Learns continuously from multiple sources of information.
- Understands global, mobile, and technology trends.
- Ability to work collaboratively and within teams.
- Ability to work with and solve complex, ambiguous problems.
- Takes risks while managing fears.
- Has a passion for learning new skills.
How does the school curriculum reflect and “teach” these skills? What is being done to prepare learners for generation flux?