The Schools for Tomorrow: Building and Sustaining High Quality Education Programs report, otherwise known as the “Provincial Declining Enrollment Study” is an excellent, worthwhile read for anyone interested in education on Prince Edward Island.
In the conclusion to the report, which was prepared by Ascent Strategy Group, comes the following general characterization of the challenges ahead in education:
At the same time, our young people live in an increasingly complex and uncertain social, political, technological and economic environment. It is clear that the future will require a population with the confidence and skills to meet the challenges posed by fast and far reaching change. As Thomas Friedman makes clear in his bestselling book, The World is Flat, students today are not competing with the student sitting next to them in class, or the rival school down the road. Today’s students are competing in a global arena. The ability to source talent and skills across the globe is placing tremendous pressure on students to achieve at high levels so they can produce at those levels as adults.
I think we need to move beyond thinking about what we do in our work as a life-long dog-eat-dog sports match where we’re all “competing in a global arena.” While corporations and their brands might “fight” for market share, nothing that I do in my working life feels remotely like a competition.
Every day I interact with a network of friends, contacts and strangers, contributing to a digital ecosystem and drawing from a digital ecosystem. This morning I fielded a request from someone in Ontario for some of the code that drives thebus.ca, got some help from a friend in Sweden with a CSS issue, and sent some feedback to a product manager at Nokia in Finland.
Now perhaps if all my clients decided to [further] offshore the work I do for them I would feel more like I was in a cage match against my digital brethren in Bangalore, but even in that case the skills I need to keep going are less competing skills than they are adaptation skills.
If we continue to pursue the sporting model of educating for economic development we’ll simply end up with a hyper-driven burnt-out uni-skilled workforce that’s likely more vulnerable to ruin. We need to train for responsible, flexible, adaptive ecosystem participation, and start treating the “global arena” more like a forum for enhanced citizenship than a fight to the death against foreign encroachers.