In my most recent post, I mentioned in passing the possibility of defining education with vision instead of tradition. This seems deserving of elaboration, and I am nothing if not elaborate.
All education is prediction about the future. If you teach a child about spelling, you are predicting that he'll be writing and not live in a world of massively available voice recognition systems. If you teach a child dates about history, you assume that she'll be unable to quickly and easily look up those dates in on-line searches. If you spend time educating someone, you assume that they'll use their new knowledge in some useful way.
This assumes that you've given thought to the world in which a child will live once he's an adult. And yet next to no effort seems to go into developing a vision of the future context of lives. Children who are 10 now will reach their peak earning years about 2040 to 2050. It might be worth thinking about what will define that world and what skills will matter. We have, after all, about 12 to 20 years of formal education in which to educate them in preparation for this. Use properly, this ought to be plenty of time.
So, what skills are we confident will matter in 2050? As difficult as it seems to define that, I would imagine that communities could define fairly interesting and comprehensive lists of things that matter. I've touched on it before, but my own guess is that the list of things that will still matter in 2050 include:
Ability to stay engaged in tasks that matter
Ability to stay engaged in relationships that matter
Ability to collaborate and coordinate with others
Ability to find and define a sense of meaning, feeling like one's life matters
Having a sense of purpose
Managing one's finances
This merely a list that occurs to me, a rough draft. I would imagine that any community of interesting people would come up with a list different and more comprehensive. The point is, identifying the skills that will matter in 2050 ought to be the first step in defining the curriculum that matters today.
And speaking of communities, I have a community of readers that makes up, for me, the most interesting and thoughtful community I've experienced. What do you think will matter in 2050? What does that suggest we ought to be teaching? For bonus points, what is it that we're teaching today that is unlikely to matter in 2050? What should we eliminate from our curriculum?