Beyond the ability to solve complex equations, future students might need an entirely different set of skills. As society becomes increasingly automated, workers will be required to develop areas of expertise that are not yet even on our list of “skills for the 21st century.” Teachers must re-evaluate their curriculum to effectively teach these new domains while preparing students for an increasingly automated world.
One skill that will be in high demand is the ability to code. With the advent of the internet of things, everything from our refrigerators to our cars will be connected to the internet. To take advantage of all these new opportunities, we will need people to write the software that makes our devices work.
Coding is not the only skill in demand, however. A report by the Oxford Martin School predicts that 90% of jobs will be automated, but this does not mean that 90% of the workforce will be unemployed. Instead, it suggests that these workers must focus on developing skills that are difficult to automate, including interpersonal interaction, creativity, and critical thinking.
Another skill is critical thinking. With so much information at our fingertips, we need to distinguish between what is true and what is false. To do this, we must first identify the sources of information and then analyze them critically. We also need to think creatively to come up with new solutions to problems. Robots cannot do either of these things and thus, humans will always be needed for this type of work.
Even though some jobs might become obsolete with the increasing prevalence of automation, we will still need people to lead personally. Empathy is one of those skills that can never be automated; we need people who can treat others as they want. With the rise of social media, we have seen a dramatic increase in the use of cyber-bullying. This is just one example of how important it is for people to have empathy and to be able to interact with others face-to-face.
The skills taught in our schools must change to reflect the needs of the 21st-century workplace. However, this does not mean that we should abandon traditional subjects such as math and science. Instead, we should focus on teaching these subjects in a way that encourages students to think critically and creatively.
For example, a student who is taught to solve complex equations will understand math better and develop the skill of thinking outside the box. This can be applied to many other subjects, allowing students to become more adaptable and successful workers in an increasingly automated world.
To prepare for this changing world, students must be encouraged to think creatively and critically while also learning to code.