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Opinion

Larson: Preparing students for the future of work

Community Voice

David F. Larson is the superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87.
David F. Larson is the superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87.

While our students were enjoying time off from the school year routine, many of our instructors worked in teams developing relevant units of study. While identifying what key concepts, themes and content will be taught, they also were determining the essential work skills students will need for the future. The implications of advanced robotics, workplace automation, artificial intelligence and driverless vehicles have and will continue to have a profound impact on careers in the future. Career success in the future will depend less on what our students know and more on the skills and dispositions they bring to the work environment.

Let's take a look at some of the future-ready dispositions and skills that our teachers are integrating into students’ learning experiences:

Pursuing purpose, meaning and possibilities

Technology and automation are replacing many jobs and creating new career opportunities. Many careers of the future have yet to be identified. It is paramount that our graduates be able to discover and pursue their passion and interests. This will ensure they will find value, significance and meaning in their work. This "sense making” also will help them be better contributors to their families, community and society. 

Digital media literacy

Success in the future will require the ability to critically assess and develop content and information that uses a variety of media. Abundant information from tech devices will continue to be seamlessly integrated into our lives. It will be critical that our graduates are able to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence all as a virtual team member.

Adaptive thinking

The ability to filter and process information, frame unanswered questions and drive toward solutions will be critical attributes in the new economy. This requires students to experience inquiry problem-based assignments that are multifaceted and require teamwork. Through these challenging projects, students are able to demonstrate ingenuity, enterprise and resourcefulness. 

Cross-cultural competence

In the future, all successful workers will need to operate in varied cultural settings and will be expected to connect with others in a deep and direct way. This will require perception, intuition, understanding and empathy. To nurture these traits, instructors are mindful of the importance of fostering the elements of belonging and equity into the classroom culture. 

Grit and perseverance

Teachers use insight and technique in designing learning experiences that help students set goals, embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks and failure, and learn from constructive criticism. More than just intellectual abilities, students are learning that effort is key on the pathway to their success. 

The future of work is uncertain. The good news is that your local public school teachers continually work hard to design and prepare learning experiences that provide more than just knowledge.

David F. Larson is the superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87.

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