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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
Please Stay Tuned: Futurework Two...
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By Robert Handley
Jan. 18, 2013 10:43 a.m.



(Click Here to read Part One)

There was an epoch wherein the pursuit of a post K-12 education, or even a high school degree, might be career related. I'm old, so I remember the Board of Education throwing my fate to hired guns (aka counselors) who claimed to understand how humans will travel through time and what *my* personal vehicle should be. 

They determined my aptitudes through testing, scholastic achievement (none), whether or not we were cheerleaders, athletes, etc. With a loud, resounding kathunk, they attempted to staple our futures to a standard form, then we were off to the armed services, trade school/associate degree or college. Back in those days, and notwithstanding the price of even the most prestigious institutions, even a self-resourced college education was possible, even meaningful.

This was a temporary situation, even if it lasted 50(?) or more years. Robotics and extra-national capitalism eventually ate (and will continue to devour) manufacturing jobs for lunch while inflation increases faster than wages. And because the apparent unfettered distribution of wealth falls heavily in favor of those who *own* the robots, we live in a nation littered with underemployed, unemployed and untold millions who just gave up. 

Government and entrenched power pretends that American exceptionalism will continue, as if by magic, as if power hasn't been protecting its own interests, as if government hasn't been squandering limited (read borrowed) resources on guns instead of butter. Government and conscience-constrained, conscience-challenged corporations continue to *just say no to the middle class.*

To further complicate and/or suggest the necessity for a momentum shift, I propose that futurework will require indefinable skills (although, most certainly, to include high technical and mathematics acumen), set in an interminable future. With the possible exception of some trades, a new career term will be only a few years, not a lifetime. So if teachers intend to imbue students with skills necessary to survive in the new competitive work environment, are teachers willing to drink some of their own cool-aid, that is, re-tool their teaching habits when the need arises?

I humbly suggest that the *adults* who shape our education future consider this; many may guess, but no person alive actually knows, what computer and/or life and/or career skills will look like in five years, much less 20. But if trends portend the future, here are a few possibilities to consider before foisting old technology (like chalk, syllabus lectures and desktop computers) on today's students. 

From the Harvard Business Review:  

In a recent study, the Bureau of Labor statistics found that the average person... held eleven jobs between the ages of 18 and 46 — meaning a job-switch once every 2.5 years.

From my own Befeebled Brain...

Tablet and Smartphones are already the New Computer (at least for now, wearable computing is close): The move to tablets is not a race to the bottom, but rather a lateral shift to accommodate realistic user need. I applaud the shift, even though I resent the limited, useful life of my expensive, environmentally unfriendly computational hardware, currently about two-three years.

Touch, Voice, Eye Tracking, even *Thoughts* are the New Keyboard:

This might not be such a bad trend, except that (at best) the marginal keyboards on mobile devices have contributed to a new illiteracy, that is, substituting thoughtful, written text with IM slang, video and snapshots. While it's true that pictures can convey abstracted meaning, they're not a full time substitute for specificity or literacy. Which leads me to…

Voice and Pictures are the new Communications Mode:

Watch teenagers, they will not only be the first to use new modes, they might invent/re-purpose the new modes, Snapchat (relatively new) and Instagram (relatively old) being great examples. 2013 probably will not see the emergence of a more intelligent youth demographic. However, today's 3rd grader will have been raised from an early age with connected awareness, conventions and rapid change of technology driven reality. Watch out old folks, *these kids will rule.* Per the chatter of prior generations, "Be there or be square."

Next up: A curated link garden to my favorite education discussions.

 

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