How do we help kids prepare for the real world of tomorrow?

Jan 17, 2013
This is one in a series of posts examining the Common Core State Standards and the conversation surrounding their impact on teaching and learning. I’ve been thinking lately about what it means for students to be “ready for the real world” — for jobs they’ll need to have to earn a living deep into the 21st Century, and (we’ve all heard this over and over) for jobs that don’t even exist yet. This is what the Common Core standards are all about: “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.” People often ask: If the world is changing at an exponential pace and the jobs of today are not the jobs our children will have tomorrow, what sense does it make to have a standardized set of skills and knowledge every child should learn? You may have heard this: Nothing about the real world is “standardized” — and “standardized” jobs are the ones being replaced by technology. Fair point, right? Marc Tucker wrote something brilliant the other day that reassures me that we can meet this challenge: “It is true that the future will be full of jobs that do not exist now and challenges we cannot even imagine yet, never mind anticipate accurately. But, whatever those challenges turn out to be, I can guarantee you that they will not be met by people without strong quantitative skills, people who cannot construct a sound argument, people who know little of history or geography or economics, people who cannot write well.” A colleague of mine, I found out recently, was a history major in college years ago and started his career as a history teacher. Today, he designs math games, software for schools and learning apps for tablet devices. A job that didn’t exist just a few years ago… “It’s just learning,” he said about how he got from A to B to C to D in his career. I know for a fact that he learned a little more than “history” in college. (Flickr photo by flickingerbrad)