World Needs More Learners
Ask most anyone and they’ll agree today’s world is not like it was 10, 25, or 50 years ago. And the future? It will change in greater degrees, in ways we cannot begin to predict. Those of us invested in education are then left with the question of how to prepare the next generation for a future we cannot see. The answer is by fostering the skills that empower students to be active learners. The problem is the current education system is out of sync with today’s demands, and there is evidence that students exiting the system aren’t ready to meet the requirements of the workforce, or in many cases, post-secondary education.
Too often school today is a series of disconnected years in which students’ jobs are to recall facts, repeat demonstrations and summarize what they saw. But, life does not have a set formula for success to follow. Simply knowing the facts or memorizing a procedure is not enough to be ready for college, to be ready for a career or to be ready to give back to the community in a meaningful way. Life is a series of trial and error that takes agility, critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving skills. We know higher education requires these abilities. Employers, too – in a wide range of industries including manufacturing, information technology, healthcare and financial services – want these skills. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, leadership, ability to work on a team, problem-solving skills, and written and verbal communications skills are some of the top attributes employers are looking for on candidates’ resumes.
How do we make this change? In Colorado, we have schools in Westminster Public Schools, Thompson Valley Public Schools and Colorado Springs District 11 that are leading the way by adopting next generation learning. Each of these districts is using next generation learning as a way for educators, parents, students, policy makers and communities to ignite and realize the unique potential of every student through the creation and delivery of personalized teaching and learning experiences. They are intentionally shifting to learning environments in which students drive their learning and develop a set of well-rounded skills that encompass the academic, professional, entrepreneurial and civic competencies needed for our dynamic world.
Next generation learning can look very different in different districts, schools or classrooms. Its extensibility is part of what makes next generation learning powerful