Schools are not matching the needs of today’s workplace, school leaders were told at an afternoon leadership session presented by Cisco Global Education.
Consultant James Lengel illustrated how the workplace and the schoolhouse matched during the mid-1800s and at the beginning of the 20th century. Using Winslow Homer’s paintings between 1850 and 1875, Lengel showed how “Workplace 1.0” required people to work in small, multi-age groups, with lots of collaboration and connection to the outside world. “Education 1.0” looked the same, with students working in multi-age groups together at a variety of tasks, with lots of connection to the outside world.
Lengel moved to 1909, the year Homer died, after the Industrial Revolution. Photos showed “Workplace 2.0” people worked in large groups, all doing the same thing and not talking to each other. They used mechanical tools and had little or no contact with the outside world while they were working.
“The schools changed to match the outside work world,” said Lengel. A photo of a classroom at the same time revealed that students were sitting in rows, working on the same task in isolation.
“Now there’s a clock,” said Lengel. “There was no clock in Homer’s classroom., but you need a clock now.”
Again, schools moved to match the workplace.
Lengel fast-forwarded to 2008-09 to talk about the needs of “Workplace 3.0”: Small groups work together to solve problems. They use digital tools and have varied styles, and they have many connections to the outside world.
“That is our economy now,” Lengel said. “If the schools had adapted to this workplace, what would they look like?”
That question led Lengel to discuss “A Day in the Life of a 21st Century Student.” The hypothetical high school student, Sally, uses her handheld device and other electronics to connect with her student work group, collects data from the local water source, and ends up seeing her information used in a state Senate debate over water quality.
At Sally’s high school, subjects are connected, students are required to serve on internships, and teachers are resources who point students in the right direction to find out information.
Also during the session, Cisco’s Gene Longo and Cynthia Temesi talked about how the company can help school leaders match today’s workplace. Temesi outlined the Education 3.0 framework, which includes four pillars.
Pillar 1: Curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment
Pillar 2: Infrastructure and technology
Pillar 3: Policies, procedures, and management
Pillar 4: Leadership, people, and culture
For more information go to www.GETideas.org.
Kathleen Vail, Managing Editor-Publications