We must prepare children for 2030.

5/11/18
Dan Calzaretta
Fifty years ago in April of 1968 the film “2001: A Space Odyssey” debuted. If you have not seen this film (which I find incomprehensible!), it spans the entirety of the human race. Beginning four million years ago in Africa, the film traces an unseen alien influence on human evolution. The movie ends in a battle between Dave, the one remaining human survivor on a spaceship headed for Jupiter, and HAL 9000, a computer that has gone insane.

When the film debuted, the first human being, Yuri Gagarin from the Soviet Union, had just ventured into space seven years earlier (he flew one orbit around the Earth in April 1961). The moon landing was still a year away (and its success was not a certainty, as the human race had never taken on such a daring technological feat). No one at the time could have imagined the possibility that a spacecraft would travel outside of the solar system (as the Voyager spacecraft finally did in 2013).

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In the last year, the private company SpaceX launched the Falcon 9. The company plans to use this rocket to send humans to Mars in the next decade. Another private company, Blue Origin, plans on sending people on vacations to space.

So, what does all this have in common? The people involved in all of these projects lived and breathed one of the core values of Willow Public School: Dream Bigger! They not only looked at what was possible but pushed themselves beyond.

I was at an education summit this past week, and one of the speakers said that we could not predict today what half of the jobs will be in 2030. Let that sink in for a minute. Half of all the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet. And that is the year that children going into kindergarten today will graduate from high school.

This has enormous implications for education. As I wrote in last week’s blog post, most schools are educating kids for a society and economy that doesn’t exist anymore. This inequity is magnified for children and communities of color, and for those who live in circumstances of economic distress.

The World Economic Forum website recently featured an article about the future of work. By 2027, the majority of workers in the United States will be freelancers. In other words, they will work for themselves and provide services to companies on a contract basis. Long gone will be the days of a person entering a company and staying there for a career. Schools and colleges are slow to adapt to this change, and therefore poorly prepare our student-scholars to be successful in a world they will enter in just a few years. 

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.
— Malcolm X

Future workers will need to be flexible and adaptable. They will need to be able to design, create, and manage their businesses. The ability to communicate effectively using diverse media will be essential. And if we don’t provide an education for our scholars to prepare them for the world of 2030, we are guilty of neglecting our most precious resource.

Sometimes you will hear school leaders say “we have never done this before” or “we don’t have the resources to change education.” These are weak excuses that ultimately reveal a lack of will, foresight, courage, or all three. For the sake of our children, and I would also argue for the sake of our planet, we must change how school is done.

To paraphrase blogger Citizen Stewart, we need to not just empower our children, but give them the power to lead courageously, think boldly, and dream bigger.