The first record I bought on my own was “Rumors,” by Fleetwood Mac. I can still remember the excitement as I placed it on the turntable and cranked up the volume and the words and music of “Second Hand News” sprang to life from my stereo speakers. I was starting my collection of records much like teens from generations before me had done. First marketed in 1889, the “record” was the standard medium for music distribution for nearly a century.
Then innovation in digital recording changed everything. Billy Joel’s “52nd Street” was released in 1982 as the first commercial CD, and hundreds of billions of CDs have been sold since then. In just the relatively few years since then, Joel has stopped recording pop music and the music enthusiast has moved on to even newer mediums such as the Mp3 player and digital streaming. The music industry had to adapt and change in order to survive. The bulky, analog records that were such a passionate part of my childhood became “Second hand news.”
As we consider such changes and realize that the rate of innovation and significant change happening worldwide is increasing exponentially, educators must look beyond the standard medium for distribution of learning that has been the standard for the past century as well.
According to the MIT Sloan Management Review, no more than 10% of the individuals in a typical organization or commercial enterprise today possess the ability to look beyond existing rules and goals to create new directions. Therefore, twenty-first-century managers seeking high-performing employees will value:
- Intelligence more than mere experience.
- Commitment and loyalty to organization and task ownership.
- Work ethic, including a desire to lead.
- Personal integrity—particularly when facing difficult ethical dilemmas.
- Teamwork and likability—smart, hard-working people who like to work with other smart, hard-working people.
The changes education must begin putting in place and continue to develop are targeted at preparing our students for success in this rapidly changing world. The goal is for our students to build the ability to look beyond what currently exists and apply their learning in creative ways. Courses like STEAM combine science and technology with design to foster these skills. Problem-based mathematics requires students to think critically and apply mathematical reasoning rather than just solve algorithms. Humanities courses ask students to think conceptually and connect content across disciplines to make meaning.
Change is inevitable, but our commitment to students is to keep them on the forefront, challenging the status quo, and nurturing them to become leaders in an uncertain future. Who knows, perhaps a student in your care will dream up the next great innovation that changes our world.