Skills Students' Futures Require Them to Have

Will Richardson (Web-logged) challenges readers to list what our kid's futures will require them to be. It's a great question to have, and David Warlick asks if someone will compile that conversation into a list. Following up on that suggestion, I thought it would be worth listing here. For original sources on who said what, visit Will Richardson's blog entry and comments .

Our Kids' futures will require them to be:

  • Networked–They’ll need an “outboard brain.”
  • More collaborative–They are going to need to work closely with people to co-create information.
  • More globally aware–Those collaborators may be anywhere in the world.
  • Less dependent on paper–Right now, we are still paper training our kids.
  • More active–In just about every sense of the word. Physically. Socially. Politically.
  • Fluent in creating and consuming hypertext–Basic reading and writing skills will not suffice.
  • More connected–To their communities, to their environments, to the world.
  • Editors of information–Something we should have been teaching them all along but is even more important now.
  • Need to be self-directed learners
  • Comfortable with learning literacies.
  • Be able to participate in virtual aspects of the following enterprises: commerce, learning, churches, etc.
  • Synthesizers of information and knowledge, no matter where they are. Kids will need to be able to retrieve information from several places and merge it into a relevant and succinct format.
  • Able to recognize problems and be real-world problem-solvers.
  • Be Critical thinkers - our students need to use thinking skills in order to deal with information effectively. In order to understand concepts we need lots of information, images, means of interacting with others to process our learning but we need the thinking skills to put it all together and construct new knowledge.
  • Able to display a sense of empathy for different people and different cultures.
  • Be willing, able, and confident enough to tinker. For example, the ability to constantly tweak, link, and repurpose (rather than passively consume) content, technology and environments for personal and community needs would certainly be a subset of being more active.
  • Be design aware. Communication is not just verbal and written, although traditional education certainly likes to think it is (and test the kids accordingly). In order to create improvements in their own environments, kids (and educators) need to understand why they’re frustrated by a website and be able articulate why they hate the strip mall down the street.
  • Be courageous enough to go (or even stay) outside the bricks and mortar school to acquire education. (There’s a chart on Education Futures that touches on this.) Educators and parents will need courage for this, too.
  • Be futures-oriented, with our help. When parents and educators ask students to continually focus on the here-and-now (or to continue to regurgitate the knowledge of the past), we’re severely limiting their opportunities to address their futures pro-actively. No one can solve the messes we’ve created by only re-inspecting navels every generation.
  • Exert more personal initiative, calculated risk-taking, and entrepreneurship to have what parents have today.
  • Media literate. They need to be able to review and think critically about TV/Films/Advertising and new media appearing on smaller and smaller hand-held devices.