When I Grow Up…

By March 18, 2016 No Comments

I recently went to the annual National Association of Independent Schools conference, where over 5000 administrators and teachers heard from speakers like Randi Zuckerberg, author of Dot.Complicated (and sister of Mark), and Jaime Casap , Google’s “education evangelist.”

Unsurprisingly, they emphasized the amazing potential of technology to help us do everything we do, including school, better. But amid all of the excitement about 21st century disruption and transformation, Casap captured my attention with a surprisingly simple statement.

He said that because the nature of work, communication, and community is changing so rapidly, we really don’t know what kinds of jobs or lives we are preparing our students for right now.

He said, rather than ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, ask them what problem(s) do they want to solve? 

Problem solving takes a lot of skill — for example, patience, creativity, an ability to conduct research and evaluate information, an ability communicate and collaborate. In many ways, these are the same competencies we needed twenty years ago to succeed in professions that we believed would exist. It’s just that today, as Casap suggests in his statement, we are fully aware that we are honing them for experiences that many of us can’t even imagine.

How do you prepare for the unknown? How do you train for a task that hasn’t yet been conceived? While these questions are challenging to answer, if schools work intentionally on behalf of and with students now, students will be ready for whatever comes their way.



Jessica is a doctoral candidate, education consultant, writer and editor. She is the founder of bookclique, a collaborative of English teachers and students working to promote book culture, and a co-founder of Well-Schooled, the site for educator storytelling, dedicated to sharing first-person educator stories. All Rights Reserved - What I Learned Today in School.