How do we turn three oranges into more than a picnic?
By this I mean how can we think multi-dimensionally through opportunities presented to us to enrich K-12 education?
Teaching has evolved into a very dynamic and exciting process given comprehensive shifts in world business, economics, environment, politics, and social reorganization. Rapid developments in technology have disrupted our landscape and will continue to do so in many areas including social interaction, commerce, and politics.
In some circles, three oranges might be thought of as a picnic. In others, they represent an entrepreneurial opportunity.
How can we successfully structure K-12 education to deliver essential foundational knowledge while at the same time exploring new ways to think, and interact with opportunities and uncertainties in a future employment environment?
When we receive training to think differently, and we practice the craft, we can see new opportunities in our daily lives. We may, perhaps, be able to see novel solutions to complex problems or be open to retraining later in life towards a new career. Considering three oranges from many perspectives and uses opens us to possibilities we might not envision without training in complex problem-solving skills.
Disruptors in the economy such as artificial intelligence, efficiencies in automated production, changing methods of interpersonal communication, and political uncertainties can be seen as exciting avenues for opportunity. They represent a fundamental shift from our expectations of a generation ago where we could perhaps more easily predict trends ten years out. We now have to think of educating children for multiple jobs, not necessarily in the same sector, with a focus on specific skill sets to carry them through an employment environment with complex challenges and an international multicultural scope.
With these ideas in mind, here are some thoughts on how we might think about the K-12 space.
We need to reorganize how schools think and operate. If we think about schools as integral parts of the communities in which they operate, we enable thinking about how these entities can work most effectively together.
1. Schools in community
We should integrate schools as much as possible into their local communities thereby drawing on developments in innovation, ideas, and community resources. We can enrich school learning by integrating learning into “real world” experiences. This promotes curiosity in young learners as they can connect traditional learning fundamentals with current developments in the arts, sciences, technology, and business. Innovative community members are envisioning alternative uses for three oranges every day in their own spheres.
2. Online integration with cultural institutions
Institutions of art, science, and culture should be encouraged to provide increased live and recorded online access to their material. In this way, education can be enriched through access to learning that would otherwise be unavailable due to resource constraints or distance challenges. This could fairly easily be made available in a curated and vetted space on the internet.
In terms of curriculum, we should consider these factors in our design and delivery in the K-12 space.
Here are some broad ideas:
- Find ways for teachers to more effectively share ideas and information with colleagues, mentors, and students, and to enable them to efficiently draw on community resources.
- Break down the barriers between science, math, and technology. This opens minds for career ideas in areas such as artificial intelligence, modeling, search engines, environmental mapping, and predicting outcomes from given assumptions and inputs.
- Include classes on topics in which students navigate complex issues across cultures. Such offerings would include negotiation, critical thinking, design thinking, and conflict resolution. These call for focused and methodical thought, and help with how we develop the skills to think through complex problems.
- Include time for collaborative projects with broader community members such as innovative thinkers, government officials solving pressing community challenges, entrepreneurs, and other parties involved in complex decision-making processes on a daily basis. Collaborations allow for the development of communication skills.
- Curriculum offering should include exposure to entrepreneurial thinking and opportunities for young students. We need to develop the thinking that enables students to see three oranges as an entrepreneurial opportunity!
- Consider career options which may include advanced technical training but not necessarily a traditional college education.
- Offer students opportunities to work with curriculum-supported STEM/STEAM physical manipulatives in order to facilitate the development of problem-solving skills.
Through careful consideration of macro trends in all aspects of our shared society, we can offer educational opportunities to students through outreach, integration, and curriculum enhancement.
Let’s consider how many ways we can all envision the opportunities presented by three oranges!
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Igor Shatokhin.