The tables have turned on us. When we grew up, there were clearly defined and long-held notions of what success looks like. We had a dream for our kids that they follow the rules in school, go on to a good college, get a good job that leads to a steady career, buy a nice house, and raise a family where they pass the dream on to another generation.
But for the first time in living memory, the definitions of a good job and steady career are no longer clear. The Information Age ushers in new job titles every day that never existed before, and there is no sign of it stopping.
This means that as teachers, we are no longer preparing students for defined jobs that require a defined set of knowledge. It means that if we continue to focus on the requisite knowledge and skills associated with a given content area, our students will be ill-prepared to thrive outside the school walls. It means we must yield our dream to theirs, prepare them in a wholly different way than we have before, and then get out of their way.
How do you prepare students for jobs that don’t yet exist? You focus on the process of learning as much or more than the learning itself. You ensure every lesson is not just about the content, but explicitly incorporates analyzing information, using evidence, thinking critically, solving a problem, sparking an innovation, inspiring a passion, communicating effectively, or developing empathy. These are the skills that drive the Information Age, so we must longer consider them optional, ancillary, or supplemental. They are the core curriculum of a new age, the fuel that will sustain a better dream.