Your Child's Job (Steve Guditus @sguditus)

Melissa Schorr of the Boston Globe wrote an article in the Globe's March 9, 2014 issue on Learning and Earning 2014 entitled "Where The State Labor Market Is Headed This Decade."  Schorr reports Massachusetts-specific statistics about the future of the job market, helpful for current job seekers, college grads, or parents and guardians who are interested in persuading their children to plant roots in The Commonwealth later in life.  If you have ever asked me my thoughts on 21st century skills or heard me speak publicly to parents/guardians, student or staff, you know that I believe we are in a time where our
Where the Massachusetts job market is headed next.
public education system is preparing our students for jobs that don't yet exist.  In her infographic-style article, Schorr states:

The work we do is ever-evolving - some jobs emerge, others fade to black (think film projectionists).  The Labor Department's list of occupations, which has gown to some 840 items since its 1977 debut, is again undergoing review.  The last revision, in 2010, added genetic counselors, hearing aid specialists, MRI technologists, and nurse midwives: the 2018 version might welcome nurse informatics and data scientists.  Can Social Media Mavens be far behind?

18 months ago, in September 2012, U.S. News and World Report reported that the top job industries in 2020 likely include work in the fields of data crunching, database analysis, market research, mental health counseling, 3D printing, robotics, nanotechnology, software engineering, communication sciences, entrepreneurship and veterinary studies.  What does this mean for how we teach our students in middle school?

We must teach students a well-rounded, exploratory and rigorous curriculum which emphasizes constant growth, lifelong learning, communication skills, critical thinking and creativity.  What exactly these jobs will be, we still do not know.  In ten years, however, as our current middle schools are graduating from high school, higher education or the military, they will be well-prepared if they possess a skill set that teaches not only content but adaptable, 21st century skills that can be used - and this should begin in middle school.  Our schedule and school should reflect this growing uncertainty about the future of the job market, as well as the need for our students to be learning, starting in middle school, how to think critically, creativity, and communicate effectively.  These skills will be needed for certain in 10 years, even if we are not entirely sure for what job title our students are applying.

So what can we do?  We can provide feedback to students in school about how to be creative, critical-thinking communicators; we can make our curriculum and school schedule be exploratory in nature and provide opportunities for many different seeds to be planted amongst our students, and provide a safe place for students to make mistakes, fail, and recover - and find their passions as a result.  Our schools can and should invest in STEM, STEAM, communication and public speaking classes, and providing opportunities and support for our struggling learners, those in the middle, and our highest-achieving students.  Everyone should be in the challenge zone - and we need to fund our schools accordingly.  To not is to fail our students and the future of our nation.

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