Welcome Back-to-School: preparing for the undefined.

The Secret Menu
2 min readSep 1, 2023

--

Teaching has always been a difficult job and the current working conditions are driving many to choose different professions. In addition to these well-documented issues, there is another reason that teaching is particularly difficult right now.

In many ways teaching is the ultimate delayed-gratification profession, as you often don’t know your full impact on your students until years later. Even though you don’t always see the immediate fruits of your labor you press forward, knowing that you can’t go wrong if you are doing your best to help your students be “prepared for the future”. It’s this future-orientated thinking that makes teaching particularly difficult right now.

We have always known that the future is unpredictable, but over the last few hundred years teachers have had a general sense of what they are preparing students for. In one era it was for religious virtue, in a later era it was for work in a factory, and most recently it has been for college and career. Although “college and career” sound like stable institutions, they are proving rather unstable at the moment. Since 2016, 91 private colleges have closed or merged and the recent advances in AI have raised all kinds of questions about not just the general “ what is the future of work?”, but the much more personal “Will AI take my job?” We’ve already seen this type of anxiety with our students, as they start to question what type of jobs could be left for them 20 years from now, when we’ve gone from Chat GTP 4 to Chat GTP 40.

I recently attended a conference where Sam Altman was one of the speakers and he was asked “What should be people be learning now?” His response was ‘people should prepare themselves for a high rate of change, learn how to learn quickly, learn to be adaptive and learn to be resilient’. These are not the traditional outcomes of the K-12 education system.

It’s against this back drop that we head back-to-school and look forward to embracing the ambiguity layered into the question of “How do we prepare students for the future?” It is also going to take a lot of work to try to figure this out, so if it seems as if Design Tech’s innovation program and the staff of Design Tech @ Oracle and Design Tech @ Rancho Cordova have something extra on their mind, this might be why.

--

--

The Secret Menu

A place to find all of the good stuff and wonder why these things aren’t on the main menu.