Two Future Trends

Well it was blazing when I got here…

I’m settled in my warm hotel room, only steps from a blazing fire in the lobby.  OK, it isn’t that cold outside — 90f in Burlington, Vermont.  But the angle of the sun and a percistent chill in the air tells me that I’m definately in a different latitude.

I’m often amazed at what I get when I type things like future in Flickr’s search box. [Image ((Jack. “Looking to the Future.” 5150fantast’s Flickr Photostream. 13 June 2007. 19 Oct 2008 <http://flickr.com/photos/5150fantast/545271820/>. ))]

Glancing through my aggregator I discovered the Executive summary of the World Future Society’s Annual Outlook Report — Top 10 Forecasts for 2009 and Beyond.  I won’t go through all of them, except to say, “Careful what you say, no need to renew your drivers license, and Did you sneeze?”

Two of the forecasts struck me, as an educator.  Number four says, “Careers, and the college majors for preparing for them, are becoming more specialized.”  The article goes on to say,

An increase in unusual college majors may foretell the growth of unique new career specialties. Instead of simply majoring in business, more students are beginning to explore niche majors such as sustainable business, strategic intelligence, and entrepreneurship. Other unusual majors that are capturing students’ imaginations: neuroscience and nanotechnology, computer and digital forensics, and comic book art. Scoff not: The market for comic books and graphic novels in the United States has grown 12% since 2006.

In an age when we parents say, “Oh, she’s just 22, she’s too young to know what she wants to do,” it appears that knowing exactly what you want to do at 22, or 18, or 16, may be what our children will need.  It’s my belief that our relentless focus on the basics, have helped to produce a generation of students who have few real passions, beyond the artificial targets of their personal information experiences.

What might schools look like that task themselves with graduating students with passions instead of just transcripts?

The second forecast that struck me is actually quite similar.  Number six says that, “professional knowledge will become obsolete almost as quickly as it’s acquired.”

Most professions will require continuous instruction and retraining. Rapid changes in the job market and work-related technologies will necessitate job education for almost every worker. At any given moment, a substantial portion of the labor force will be in job retraining programs.

Personally, I’m not so sure that education, at least as we typically think about it, will intrude quite so much into our everyday lives.  However, I have no doubts that we will be learning, unlearning, and relearning for much, if not all of our days.  I’m not sure that we will spend so much time being retrained, as making a little bit of learning a part of every day’s experiences.

What do schools look like, who task themselves with graduating students who have taken on learning as part of the lifestyle — learning lifestyle.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.