Why our kids aren’t prepared for their future

A picture of Dan Pink's book Drive.
Drive by Dan Pink

One of the biggest issues that we face in education is that we are in adequately preparing our kids for their future. I recently finished Dan pink’s new book Drive, and sure enough more evidence that we’re not preparing our kids for the 21st century.

Let me explain. In his book he talks about two kinds of work. The first, algorithmic, “are those tasks in which you follow a set of established instruction down to a single pathway to one conclusion.” The second, heuristic, are  “tasks that are just the opposite. Because no algorithm exists for it, you have to experiment with possibilities and devise a novel solution.” Now, which of those most sound like school. You got it, the vast majority of the work done by our kids in school is algorithmic. In fact, the measure that the public, well politicians anyway, love is the standardized test. Most of which measure how well the student follows established instructions down a single pathway to one conclusion.

Interestingly, those activities in school that are most algorithmic are in our beloved core curriculum. Which by the way happen to be the classes that kids see as the most boring and irrelevant. On the other hand, those activities   which are the most  heuristic are found in the co-curricular courses, and extracurricular activities. Drama, band, art, newspaper, yearbook, athletics … you get the picture.

But here’s the kicker, again from Pink’s book, “McKinsey & Co. estimates that in the United States, only 30% of job growth now comes from algorithmic work, while 70% comes from heuristic work.” He goes on, “A key reason routine work can be outsourced or automated; artistic, empathic, nonroutine, work generally cannot.”

One of my favorite educational researchers Larry Lezotte always said, “What gets measured gets taught.”  Well, what we’re measuring in schools is the algorithmic stuff, that means that it will get taught! So we are doing a great job spending most of our time making sure that students acquire the skills and behaviors that are most likely to be outsourced to other countries.

What do you think? Leave me a comment.

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