- College- and career-readiness isn't enough: The K-12 education system now faces the challenge of preparing students for fields that won't be automated via robotics and artificial intelligence, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
- To do this, schools must take advantage of increasingly robust data analytics tools to better prepare students for learning beyond high school while also weighing the possibilities of offering tech credentialing to those students who don't have postsecondary education in their futures, with local industry partnerships potentially helping to bear that burden.
- But hard tech skills must also come alongside the development of soft skills in areas like written and verbal communication, critical thinking and problem-solving so students have the ability to think on their feet and pivot when necessary.
For the past century or so, the public education system's primary purpose, aside from developing productive citizens, was to ensure the bulk of students were prepared largely for the very industrial jobs that are now being automated. Fast-paced technological advancement has bred changes in the economy over the past decade-plus, necessitating shifts in approaches from K-12 to higher ed.
While this has resulted in pushes for more college-readiness and greater access to postsecondary education, the reality is that many students will simply never pursue higher education. To best serve them while also better preparing their peers, schools and districts can embrace project-based learning grounded in real-world scenarios, perhaps in cooperation with local businesses, so students gain real-world experiences along the way. To bolster that, high schools might also consider expanding their career-and-technical education options, up to and including offering apprenticeships with local companies.
For schools in areas that are struggling due to increased automation and a lack of new economic opportunities, it may also be time to enlist the aid of local officials to encourage state and federal lawmakers, as well as major corporations, to help bring those new opportunities alongside the training necessary for them.
Many of the jobs that formerly suited those with high school diplomas just fine are becoming a thing of the past. For those schools and districts not already on the paths mentioned above, continuing to serve students as if those jobs will return will only prove to be a disservice in the long run.