Preparing Our Kids for the Job Market of Today and Tomorrow

As an entrepreneur, a citizen and a parent, I am concerned about our education system. I question how we educate kids, and more importantly, how we can give kids the best chances to succeed in life and at work. I am not alone with that concern. Homeschooling and the emergence of digital schools are an indication that some parents and students aren’t happy with the current school system.

Many thinkers, like Sir Ken Robinson, are looking at ways to change education from the ground up. Yes, the conversation goes further than whether kids should use a tablet in the classroom. It is the entire system that must be adapted to a new reality. Changing a few pieces at a time won’t work because there will be missing pieces. For example, you need to have applications and train teachers about the possibilities of the iPad. Turning the old books into a digital format won’t cut it. Teachers will need to reinvent how they teach their courses.

What we need to do is rethink the curriculum, the teaching methods, the tools that teachers and students will use, the workshops, and how this impacts the design of the classrooms and the school. We should also rethink the school calendar and the activities. More importantly, we must rethink the purpose of education in 2013 and beyond.

Many industries have already been disrupted by the Web. Many more industries will be disrupted by fresh ideas and startups that built products and services that are more meaningful to people and businesses. Technology makes it possible. But what truly creates this level of disruption is a mix of knowledge and creativity. We reached a point where the digital world enables us to do things differently, to collaborate more, to connect with and to touch as easily our neighbours than people living across the globe. How do we prepare our kids to become productive members in this new environment is a huge concern of mine.

And there are more down-to-earth questions like how to keep kids interested in the classroom, how to encourage kids to become more curious, to develop a love for learning, to experiment, to think, to learn how to gather data, analyze it and find a solution, to make things on their own, to communicate well and to better interact with people.

It is time that we disrupt the education system. I don’t say that everything we do is wrong. I say that we must reevaluate their relevance and search for better ways to educate our kids. I don’t have all the answers but one thing I am sure is that one-size-fits-all is not the answer. For now, let’s all agree that it is a topic up for discussion.

If you speak French, I suggest this podcast by Martin Girard et Martin Lessard (Le iPad à l’école) about a private high-school in Montreal, Quebec that has introduced the iPad in their classrooms last year. It inspired some ideas that I introduced here.