Thursday, December 18, 2008

Educating for the Future

Although I am not an expert or practitioner in the field of education, I've come to the conclusion we need to upgrade our K-12 curriculum to educate our children for future challenges.

In my opinion, our current curriculum was designed to prepare children for the transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy. It focuses on developing abilities to read, write and use math. This was great training to prepare people for work in manufacturing, i.e. the industrial economy.

As the world moves towards a knowledge economy, reading, writing and math will continue to be important, but not sufficient, skills to have. Here are two important capabilities I believe need to be included for our children to be competitive in the future economy:

  • Problem solving - I believe the world is becoming more complex, creating more challenges that require solutions to address multiple dimensions. Today's basic education won't prepare our children for the future they will face. A start for a problem solving curriculum could be combining core skills such as reading, writing and math with critical thinking skills to objectively analyze a situation, develop potential solutions, and implementing them.

    Engineering is one example of a "problem solving" education. However, I think the principles of problem solving should be taught in K-12 and expanded past science solutions.

  • Money management - I believe financial skills will be an important part of the future knowledge economy, as important as knowing how to read, write, and math were in the past. The average person already needs to manage a range of financial instruments, which are sure to keep growing in the future.

    For me, the basics will include managing personal finances. However, it will also be important to understand and use advanced concepts such as compound interest, debt amortization (including mortgages), investing, and retirement.
  • Unfortunately, I don't think changes like these will be made by the time our daughter enters kindergarten. Therefore, as parents, we will likely carry the responsibility to teach these concepts.

    For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

    This is not financial or education advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2008 Achievement Catalyst, LLC


    Anonymous said...

    I absolutely agree about extending personal finance education into the K-12 arena. One of the problems will be finding qualified teachers of this subject who are not themselves ingrained in the consumer credit culture.

    Anonymous said...

    When I graduated from school, I was woefully unprepared to manage my own finances ... even though my degree was in business!
    We were trained to get a job in a large organization ... how times have changed!