304 Days ’til 40: Preparing Our Children for the Unknown Future World

23 Apr

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Thank you to fellow Blogger, Louise Behiel, for reminding me of this important topic and thus, inspiring this post.

What is our children’s future going to look like?  Our world is changing at a frightening speed, mostly with the advent of technology.  When I cop are the world I grew up in with the world of today, nothing seems the same…. I had a rotary phone, 13 channel TV we had to change by hand, record player (yes cassettes were not yet out), and the only communication between my friends and I during non school hours involved us getting on our feet or hopping on a bicycle and physically transporting ourselves to the friend’s home to speak (no cellphones yet, sorry).  My girls would not know what to do, as most things that take up their time today did not even exist back then.  (Thankfully they do read, jump rope, and ride scooters, to there are at least a few similarities).

However, what can I say, what can I do, to give them what they need to enter the world and be a productive adult?  I realize that I cannot in any way predict the world my daughters will enter even ten years from now.  I have no idea what the economic situation will be, how many jobs will be outsourced to countries with workers who will work for less, or what skills they will need.  I do not know what new fields will be available and what current fields will still exist, or exist in modified or evolved forms.

As an educator, these questions weigh heavily on my mind, as I am not only concerned about my own daughters, but about all the students whose lives I am involved in on a daily basis.

As I have challenged myself to think about answers to this question…. I have come up with two skills I believe I MUST impart to my daughters and other young people who I work with.  I believe that the two skills we need to cultivate in our young people are creativity and adaptability.  These will be highly critical in our ever-changing world and workforce.  In fact, many companies are already acknowledging this and some are stating their desire to hire creative staff members.  They understand that the ability to think outside the box, to view problems in new ways, to offer solutions no one else has thought about, will be necessary to keep their own businesses adapting and changing to the world.

The irony is that schools today have not fully adapted to our changing world.  Many top individuals who are speaking out on education, such as Sir Ken Robinson, are pointing out that schools indeed kill creativity, instead of cultivate it.  He explains that, while our society has evolved, our schools and the way we educate our students have not evolved to keep up with the world we live in.  His arguments are compelling, and I agree with them.  What frustrates me is that we have an understanding of the problem, but have not yet worked out the solution.

I often challenge myself to think about how we need to adapt our schools in order to prepare our students for the world they are going to enter.  How are we going to nurture creativity and foster adaptability?  How are we going to stop our current system from destroying the skills that are arguably the most necessary skills of tomorrow?

Today, 304 days ’til 40, I am going to continue to challenge myself and others to find ways to appropriately prepare our children for the world they will inherit.  I want to know that I am doing my part to ensure that their future, and the future of our world, will be as big and bright as possible.



Tags: , , , , , ,

22 responses to “304 Days ’til 40: Preparing Our Children for the Unknown Future World

  1. craftythriftydecoratingwifemom

    April 23, 2012 at 00:27

    As I read your opening paragraph I identified completely with you. You’re 16 years younger than I, so there is still a gap between us. Just not as large as the gap between us and our kids. Rotary phones are collectors’ items now. And I totally agree with the changing world and education’s failure to really prepare our kids for what they face on graduation (my kids are 26 & 28) much less beyond.

    • 400daystil40

      April 23, 2012 at 14:16

      Yes, sad but true…. I think we even felt it (that what we learned in school barely prepared us for the world we entered) – but now even more so.

  2. rabidmongoose

    April 23, 2012 at 04:07

    As a parent of 2 (plus 1 on the way) I also wonder what the future holds for my kids. And like you, I have realized that rather than worry over the future I must instead focus on instilling basic principles in my children instead. I think the greatest attribute I want my children to possess is responsibility. I look around and see a world full of people who want to ‘pass the buck’ and ask someone else to take responsibliity…I think this is the way the world has always been. I want my children to stand in the gap and take the responsibility no-one else will accept.

    • 400daystil40

      April 23, 2012 at 14:20

      Yes, definitely! What an important point. I see this often, a lack of willingness to assume responsibility and it is worrisome. I also find that motivation, instead of apathy, is a big need among young people today. They need to want to contribute, to make themselves better people, to make our world a better place, and this is internal – something we cannot force on them…. it ultimately must come from within.

  3. tonyakerrigan

    April 23, 2012 at 05:10

    Luckily, we live in a school district where they are attempting to ready kids for the future in innovative ways, though they’re just now really starting it. The high school was built 4 years ago to be technologically advanced in that they have whiteboards in the classrooms and a special tech room for teachers to do distance learning. And starting this fall, all high school students will receive a laptop. Still, I feel like with all the technology, the teachers are still forced to teach so much in such short amounts of time that it actually limits what the students learn. Maybe that’s just my thinking, though.

    • 400daystil40

      April 23, 2012 at 14:21

      Wow, it wounds like you have an amazing school that is really working at being forward thinking in relation to technology. Certainly no schools are perfect, I think the key is for schools to be aware and always work towards challenging themselves to better education for the sake of our students.

  4. clynchie

    April 23, 2012 at 06:53

    I was having a conversation only last night with a good friend of mine on our parents generation and the old stoves which served to heat the house, warm water for baths, and used for cooking. For the hand washing of clothes and for the many manual tasks that my generation never had to experience. We reminisced about remembering when coloured TV was introduced, and how our parents were of the generation when the Radio was the central point for a show or news.

    I think parents of our generation possibly worried as much as we do as parents for the next generation as so much was changing in our world as we grew up. I wonder whether that change just continues and possibly excellerates as technology takes a hold?

    The sad aspect to all of this change is that as a society we are drawing further apart as we loose the ability to communicate face to face. I hope that as far as education is concerned that we never move away from classroom teaching to a more remote way of doing things as we seem to be doing in the workforce today.

    I think it is so sad that so many don’t know their own neighbours, and are too afraid to stop and help someone in the street.

    I too worry about the world my daughter is growing up in, and hope and pray that we can do the best we can with what we have to help her keep grounded and enabled to connect with people and not loose touch with what is important.

    One way that as a family we like to ‘go back to basics’ is to go camping – away from all the modern conveniences, where we spend time together and walk and experience nature and basic foods, laugh together and create new memories. They are times that in my book – are gold!

    Thanks for sharing a thought provoking post.

    • 400daystil40

      April 23, 2012 at 14:24

      Yes, I agree with your comments completely! I also worry so much at the lack of communication between people (hmmm… I sense another post coming from this)….. it is sad that community does not seem to exist as it once did. I love the idea to go camping as a family and take that time together out in nature.

  5. writerwannabe763

    April 23, 2012 at 07:04

    Food for thought for sure… I also wonder about how …in my case it’s my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will handle the future…(only have 1 g.g.) My grandchildren are young adults and some of them are just ‘going with the flow’ and aren’t greatly motivated …others are and striving to set goals for themselves. One of my grandsons started university but left shortly after because it wasn’t at all what he was expecting and thought he couldn’t make a go of it…he talks sometimes about maybe trying again but is a waiter at the moment and if that’s what made him happy I’d say keep doing what he’s doing…but he’s always talking about doing ‘something else’ but not sure what…

    I have to wonder what he was led to believe University was …that he got there and was confused??

    • 400daystil40

      April 23, 2012 at 14:28

      Diane, what a good point… I think in high school we place university up on this high pedestal – it is the goal the students strive for and they are really led to believe that when they get there they will have, “arrived.” I think it is a big disappointment for many when they realize the first two years are an extension of high school and only after that do they really focus on their major… and even then, usually a master’s degree is needed before you can really work. I am sure it is a huge let down for some….. Even 20 years ago when I was in university I quickly realized that my first degree would not make me employable and I had to plan to immediately get a master’s degree, which was not an easy realization……

  6. My Soulful Healing

    April 23, 2012 at 18:27

    I have nominated you for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Just my way of acknowledging that you inspire me:

    • 400daystil40

      April 23, 2012 at 22:12

      Thank you so much, how thoughtful of you!

  7. saymber

    April 23, 2012 at 19:16

    As in all things – balance. Creativity in our children can be cultivated with the new tools available to them but the process shouldn’t just be exclusively technology focused. Creativity is manifestation of thoughts into reality…tangibility. Painting on a touch screen vs using a paintbrush, mixing paints, smelling the paints and canvas…the flowers in the landscape you are painting….all of it. I find my greatest source of creativity when I’m in nature….not the one on the internet or other technology media…the real tangible stuff.

    • 400daystil40

      April 23, 2012 at 22:13

      Yes, definitely! Ahh, I agree totally! Creativity must be a cultivation of general creativity in every sense (we teach knitting, musical instruments, art, etc. at our school!) 🙂

  8. viveka

    April 23, 2012 at 21:00

    The schools today are so different to when I went to school, but in my days we respect for our teachers and we were well behaved – and we took in what school torte us. When I see what’s going on in some schools today, where there is no discipline – how can they learn anything? Because the school is the platform beside our family that is the ground we build on. That doesn’t mean that we leave everything to the school, as I think a lot of parents do today.

    • 400daystil40

      April 23, 2012 at 22:15

      Yes, I must say this is of paramount concern in our schools – the respect is disappearing. When I was in school and a student made a bad choice, the parents would side with the teacher to stop the behaviors – now the parents blame the teachers for the behaviors! Now when a child gets a bad grade, instead of blaming the lack of effort, teachers can be blamed…. times have really changed, as has the shifting understanding of who should take what responsibility in education (i.e.: the teacher teaches, but the student must want to learn).

  9. Louise Behiel

    April 24, 2012 at 05:51

    I’m honored that my comment spurred such a thoughtful, sensitive post. Well done. I htink Values and respect for others and self are going to be super important down the road. Just as they are today. Our children need us to allow them to shine, in whatever that endeavor they choose. I heard a speaker who told us that most of the jobs for our children haven’t been invented yet! So fluidity and ease are going to be critical.

    • 400daystil40

      April 24, 2012 at 16:06

      Thank you for the inspiration! Yes, the speaker is correct… most of the jobs they will fill have not been invented yet – scary thought for someone like me who loves to control and plan things!

      • Louise Behiel

        April 24, 2012 at 16:16

        LOL i’m so glad my kids are dealing with this. As a grandma, I try to bring excitement for the future with a solid love and acceptance in the present.

  10. Spider42

    April 24, 2012 at 13:13

    I could not agree more vis-a-vis the problems in education and the obsolete systems in academia (at least everything up until a bachelors degree). You spoke about something similar in your previous post as well, regarding your daughters and your lack of clarity.
    Well I’d say don’t fret on it too much – that is the normal generation gap that is I think always there, but a little more pronounced and in-your-face now because of the leaps that society, technology and globalisation has taken these last couple of decades, not to mention the exponential growth in all these and more that is expected in the future.

    My recommendation? Teach your kids to dream. Teach them to be happy in themselves, no matter what. Give them a desire to learn as much as you can, instill wonder, show them fascinating things and encourage them to question and yearn to know more.
    Beneath it all though, I would say teach them to be rational and clear-thinking human beings, because (my issues with certain aspects of modern religion and such stated but kept aside) what the world needs desperately is not just motivated free-thinkers who are not impeded by social pressures and “living in a safe bubble” lifestyle, but they need people who can see things as they are and not get side-tracked by people in positions of authority who could unduly unfluence their personalities. If you are a religious family, teach them about a higher power and basic, human lessons and such, but please – no dogma. Religion is a thing to thank and celebrate a creator and not a punishment to be endured and mourned. Life’s too short for that.

    Ok, I’m going to stop before I go off here because that could take a while!


    • 400daystil40

      April 24, 2012 at 15:59

      It sounds like we have similar parenting philosophies! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: