Shift happens – now what are we going to do about it?!!!!

I read somewhere that the first Industrial Revolution (at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th) may have been a result of a surplus of educated or informed people solving mechanical problems (of course, now I can’t find the article where I read that and I may be paraphrasing it incorrectly). Also, during the Great Depression many people who would have taken white collar or higher-paying jobs went into teaching and education because of the steady pay.

So maybe the United States won’t be in such bad shape in the long run despite the job shift and outsourcing. Perhaps people who once worked at major corporations would move into public service jobs or roles where they could use their smarts to innovate new processes or products. It might actually suck that they would have to take a cut in pay. On the other hand, I don’t really see anyone in this country realizing that they need to do anything to react or prepare for the shift of even more jobs to China and India. I worked in Corporate America and my impression was that most people would just hunker down and wait and hope for the better. If they were canned they looked elsewhere, but honestly, it seems that the safe havens for the jobs we were educated and trained to do are becoming fewer and fewer.

I’ve seen the “Shift Happens” slide set about a year ago, but it frustrates me that I SEE OR HEAR ABOUT NO ONE who is working to help people in this country deal with the shift. The slide set the idea forth… “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist.” That’s great… NOW DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Perhaps I’m just to far removed from what is actually happening, and there are educators or people in the system (despite the bureaucratic and political muck and mire) who are forming a plan of action. I can only hope.

If we were to do something about it. I think we’d have to take a hard look at our own educational system and see what we are doing right (and wrong). Maybe starting with the most successful and brightest young people today who are either successful and poised for success. We look at how they passed through the educational system and evaluate how we can make this happen for more or all students. In general we should look at why we’re failing to educate students…. and not just by looking at test scores. Things that are measurable are the easiest things to fix, and often they don’t reach the crux of the problem and the heart of the solution. Besides, when institutions are given targets they will often not follow logical or correct paths to meeting their numbers. They will bend and shape the numbers (students, customers, patients, etc.) so that they “appear to be successful.”

Instead of just looking at test scores maybe we should be asking questions like: Does this individual know how to solve multifaceted problems? Could this individual pass a behavioral interview at a job? Is this person succeeding at what he or she is good at (trade, skill, art, craft, etc.)? Also, we need to start making technology and the best teachers available to everyone regardless of their neighborhood or demographic. We start expecting every child to succeed not just at tests but succeed at attaining a higher level of education. Maybe it’s me, but believe that the educational system we have today has failed us and will continue to fail us. We’re all like alcoholics on the way to recovery. We’ve realized that there is indeed a problem. Now what are we going to do about it?



4 Responses to “Shift happens – now what are we going to do about it?!!!!”

  1. 1 Steve Rosenbaum October 26, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    For all those concerned about jobs leaving this country, here’s a little data from the department of labor. There are approximately 140 million jobs. 90% of those jobs are location fixed. You couldn’t move them if you wanted. Of the remaining 10%, only a small portion have been shipped out. Add to that 76 million baby boomers being replaced by 55 million Gen xers, and what you will soon have is a big labor shortage. That’s partly why we’re near record lows in unemployment. Consider that in the next 5 years the railroads will be losing more than 50% of their management at the same time their business is rapidly expanding. By the way, we can’t ship any of those railroad jobs overseas. (location fixed). And I imaging your next dental appointment isn’t in Bejing

  2. 2 nkilkenny October 27, 2007 at 12:55 am

    Now, I didn’t mean to paint the picture that all jobs would pass over to other countries. It’s just that part of me isn’t convinced that our education system isn’t equipped to prepare people for any shift. Many of our institutions still teach and prepare students for factory economy jobs. You also mention jobs that belong to a sustaining economy that supports us within the country. That’s true. Also, we’ll be able to export our natural resources, though I’m not sure how many jobs that can provide. Also, about jobs that produce products, intellectual property or services that are marketed outside of the country? What about jobs that are based on the creative economy? Are we ready to produce workers for these jobs? Will the improvements in educational standards promised by NCLB truly prep us for this shift? I’m not entirely convinced.

  3. 3 Steve Rosenbaum October 28, 2007 at 1:00 am

    I totally agree with you that our education system is truely lacking. It’s a non-competitive environment geared to the lowest common denominator. Consider all the famous drop outs. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and more. And they dropped out of Harvard and Standford. I think what Bill Gates is doing with his educational experiments might be the first really good steps to change.

    Here’s a good way to look at the problem. One school goes to the State Legislature looking for more money. They say that they are doing great, test scores are up and they’d like some more money to get even beter. A Second school follows and say, we are in big trouble. Drop out rate is 50%, with have school violence and things are getting worse. We need some more money. Now you tell me, who gets the money? You reward failure and people learn that’s how to get rewarded.

  4. 4 nkilkenny October 29, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    I do like the idea in theory that those who show results will get rewarded. Perhaps I just don’t trust institutions and the system as a whole to deliver results correctly and with the actual benefit of the students in mind.

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