An open letter to fellow educators. Happy Teacher’s day!

Open letter 040916

 

Teacher’s day – 5th September.

Dear fellow educators,

Jem and Scout want to build a snowman after it snows for the first time in their lives, but there isn’t enough snow to do it. Jem has the idea to build the base out of mud and cover the outside with snow. Their father, Atticus, is tickled by their ingenuity and tells Jem, “From now on I’ll never worry about what’ll become of you, son, you’ll always have an idea… I can’t tell what you’re going to be – an engineer, a lawyer, or a portrait painter.”

This paragraph from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a mocking bird” now resonates with each of us – the educators of today… It reiterates of the enormously onerous task that is upon us in preparing our students for the next century. From engineers, doctors, lawyers – we added the profession of software engineers over the last few decades. What about the next few decades? For students of 2020 school leaving batch? The workforce of 2030? The rise of entirely new careers such as data scientists, social media strategists, and UX designers (user experience – demolishing the hubris of the architects of user interface) or, some other? I have in my life of 50 years seen the professions of telephone operators, travel agents, bank tellers, video parlor operators, printing press managers going obsolete. DIY (Do IT Yourself) kits, cheap and accessible digital printing on any surface, digital 3D printers for anything from spare parts to making prototypes are available to amateurs and professionals alike. Control with specific skill related dependencies has shifted to variable, applicable, ingenious and idea based creativity.

The World Economic Forum recommends that the educational system be completely redesigned to emphasize skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, collaboration and digital literacy. It’s no longer about preparing kids for a particular career, but it’s about teaching a mindset, a behavior, and a skill of lifelong learning. According to the US Department of Labor, 65% of today’s students will have careers that don’t exist yet.

I initially started writing this by trying to imagine what careers of the year 2030 might look like. I would be an octogenarian, as would be most of the parents of my generation of educators whose age today range from 40 to 50 years. Our parents are wading through satellite TV, skype calls, using video face time across geographies and time zones, sharing photos on “what’s app” of their travels and grand children… I started to wonder what my students would be into when I would survive to that age, three decades from now. We will be there in all likelihood given the gene therapies, organ transplants and growing spare organs of one’s own from stem cells – the pace with which medical research and technology for health and wellbeing is moving. I began with applying existing careers to newly created technologies (Animatronic Veterinarian?) and then extrapolated other careers based what new discoveries can afford us (Celestial Fashion Designer?). I realized I could just as easily play this for a mad libs game – not tried yet but aspiring to do that soon…( http://www.madlibs.com/), that combined different nouns and adverbs in infinite different ways, and come up with a list that is just as likely to happen as any well thought out and researched list. How about a Drone Rancher, a Holoportation operator, a Visualization consultant, a Virtual Tapestry designer for Evacuated Tube Transportation Technologies (http://www.et3.com/), a Gamer DE addiction Therapist, an Avatar relationship manager… go ahead, make up a few with your students in your next class!

(http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/55-jobs-of-the-future/)

As educators, we can now comfortably stop fretting about managing classrooms (http://www.odditycentral.com/pics/swedens-classroom-free-school-the-future-of-education.html) or for that matter swing from one prescribed curriculum to the other and lesson plans for creating the next generation of engineers or teaching kids to be coders; what we want to do is help ignite kids’ passions, unleash their inner inventor, build up their own creative confidence so that they can be the ones to invent the world they want to live in. Schools as makers space? Educators as collaborators? The STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) is gathering a different velocity with STEAM (STEM + Arts)…

What we can do is work together to help children tap into their ingenuity and build their snowmen. From then on we’ll never worry about what’ll become of the next generation; they’ll always have an idea.

Yours truly,

Nivedita Mukerjee

A fourth generation educator, an aspiring MadLib gamer and plans to live to see the future careers today’s students would be creating for themselves.

https://about.me/niveditamukerjee

 

 

 

 

 

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21 thoughts on “An open letter to fellow educators. Happy Teacher’s day!

  1. Putting it simply in the current times-Loved it!
    The lucidity in thought and expression very evident.
    Agree Niv that our generation will be able to see the change from conceptual age to……..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi nivedita…i fully agree with what you wrote about teaching the generation abt the idea of contentment rather than subjective knowledge. However students particularly in india are not so fortunate to persue what they passionately wish for…many aspiring sportspersons,artists and writers etc leave their dreams unfulfilled owing to lack of guidance at school level.time is changing and i am sure good changes will happen in our lifetime only….what i am concentrating at home is the moral values part,i am a strong believer that if a person has a strong value system he or she would be a successful being

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vow maam.i read it again and again.there is so much depth in your writing.i perfectly agree with you.nobody in our previous generation or present can think of gaming as profession. All the future professions belong to the creative logical thinkers.so the onus falls on us to build those skills.the rest they will take care.happy teachers day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved reading it Niv. Yes teachers are no longer makers of careers but facilitators of building skills and attitude, rest is all in the hands that works.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow that’s not only wonderfully worded but it’s so thought provoking too. Yes can we just come out of this designed curriculum classroom lethargies and printed matters please.? Today’s teaching needs to be tomorrow’s application. It’s sad we don’t ponder on the yonder.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Really amazing read especially for our generation . We need to understand the future better to understand the education our kids are receiving .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Coherent, progressing logically , eventually this finely written piece takes the reader to a space where boundaries of the mind dissolve to run free into the exciting future . The target audience should get sufficiently ignited to move forward , occupying the mental space of each student and transforming it organically.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We are indeed in wonderful times of teaching and parenting! let’s continue to share our thoughts. This would become like a time capsule for us when we look back.

    Like

  9. Dear Niv
    Love the analogy – love madlibs too .. The idea is literally to help children find a system for themselves . To learn to sort through -To learn to find a way to think . As hard as it sounds it’s important for teachers of the new generation to realise that you can’t give what you can’t have and so we can’t teach what we can’t do —

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dear Niv

    Loved your writing – A big fan of madlibs too .And yes the trick is to teach Children to learn to think . To help each find a system that works for themselves.

    In that as new generation teachers we must realise that we can’t give what we don’t have – we can’t teach what we don’t know how to do …. so it’s thinking all the way

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wake up time for all parents! A few days back I went to attend a class on positive parenting where they warned us not to pressurise children to study the way we did… Demands are different now so are the problems. I feel your thoughts reiterate with precision what I learnt that day. Excellent write up

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So thought provoking!! Indeed the next gen students will definitely need a new curricula to equip themselves to the change in technology and lifestyle. Loved reading it Nivedita!! Thinking of my grandchildren belonging to that furture era!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dear Nivedita ma’am…Strongly agree that teachers role in today’s world is that as a facilitator,a guide,a philosopher.Lovely write up.As a parent, we need to understand d interests of our children nd also allow them to take up as their career.It is us….teachers nd parents together who can bring about a disastrous change.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This totally resonates with my idea of future classrooms. Let them build their own snowmen, the rest they will figure out better than we ever thought.
    As educators if we learn to relinquish the control over what and how children learn the world would be a better place to live.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Lovely read Niv! I wish it were STEAM though. STEM +Arts. I wish my kids did not have to choose between STEM and ARTS, rather , have the opportunity to work with both, striking the balance that we know is so right 🙂 (in the Indian context of course)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Read it somewhere about robot counselor as a career for the future. Ms Niv, such a relevant topic you have addressed. My questions: if the jobs of the future don’t exits today, why are we still providing education for jobs that have already become obsolete or about to become one?

    Happy Teachers’d Day!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Challenging times ahead for educators, Nivedita. They have great potential to be fun and fulfilling as well. So there’s a lot to look forward to, of course. I think the progress of the times brings the role of an educator as a ‘guide’ into sharp focus. May be this should have been the focus all along but somehow was lost along the way. But soon it will be unavoidable – a happy consequence. May the tribe of passionate teachers grow, Happy Teacher’s Day!

    Liked by 1 person

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