A recent New York Times op-ed provided some insight into how education and career paths in the future are likely to be dramatically different. It cites the accelerated “pace of technological change, digitization and globalization” along with the world “being knit together more tightly than ever” as the fuel for some traditional skills rapidly becoming obsolete in the future workforce.
“Your children can expect to change jobs and professions multiple times in their lifetimes, which means their career path will no longer follow a simple “learn-to-work’’ trajectory, as Heather E. McGowan, co-author of The Adaptation Advantage, likes to say, but rather a path of “work-learn-work-learn-work-learn.” According to McGowan, “Learning is the new pension. It’s how you create your future value every day.”
Educators will need to shift focus to encourage students to be lifelong learners who are self-motivated and prepared to make changes routinely throughout their careers. There will obviously still be a need for direct instruction in reading, writing, and math that we provide our students as we “teach them the way they learn.” As important, though, is that we help them understand how they learn. With this knowledge, they are more able to have the self-awareness and the emotional investment that can ultimately mean enjoying learning.
The other good news for some of our students is that their future may be less about arbitrarily checking off the boxes with traditional high school and post-secondary course requirements. Education in the coming years is likely to shift to elevate the development of skills that will support the ever-changing career course they will have. Since many students with dyslexia and attention deficits are often remarkably adaptable and creative, their skills should serve them well as they move throughout their working lives. A non-traditional learner should have a leg up in career opportunities of the future.
Susan Mixon Harrell