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What is the future role of school?

As Michael Godsey noted in The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

The relatively recent emergence of the Internet, and the ever-increasing ease of access to web, has unmistakably usurped the teacher from the former role as dictator of subject content.

Being the ‘Knowledge Facilitator’ is not enough.

Teachers are no longer directly responsible for increasing student’s knowledge or IQ and instead are charged with facilitating knowledge acquisition. The risk for educators is if the evolution of teaching is simply from ‘sage on the stage’ to an ‘online knowledge facilitator’ teachers will be relegated to being technicians in the delivery of engaging online content. (Not to mention the negative implications for the future student.)

While Godsey notes that this changing role of the teacher presents a threat to the profession of education, it may also present an opportunity for educators to reshape their role in ways beyond that of a technician of the learning experience. In the past, educators were the providers of content knowledge - they nurtured the development of the Intellectual Quotient. Now educators are focusing on students social/emotional skills - their Emotional Quotient. But this is not the whole picture of how students succeed in life.

Building a student’s future quotient.

As Julia Freeland Fisher points out in the new book Who You Know the development of a child’s network has been excluded from the realm of school. But in a time of increasing income segregation and the decline of the middle class, there is a real opportunity for schools to recognize that equitably building social capital is a compelling ‘reboot’ of the idea of school.

Future of school: Future Quotient

Future of school: future quotient.

How can schools move to a place of being proficient at providing students with opportunities through a network of possible mentors? How do schools create an internship or apprenticeship program that is not only enrichment, but is core to the school design? How do schools shift to addressing not only the Intellectual Quotient and the Emotional Quotient, but also tackle what we call the Future Quotient (FQ)?

These are not insurmountable challenges.

Take the building of a network: Schools are perhaps the most well placed entity in a community to build a database of professional opportunities. Schools are geographically embedded in a neighborhood, they have a range of adults (parents, teachers, etc.) who connect regularly with the school. That band of adults is rotating regularly as students graduate, continually adding a fresh input of networking potential. And the students themselves have a remarkable ability to build lasting connections. Lastly there are a host of local and regional organizations that want to help. They range from county and city workforce development initiatives, professional networks, chambers of commerce, rotary clubs, etc.

In addition, many states in the United States are now advancing legislation that supports this effort. California, for instance has an important Work Based Learning initiative and New York now has a Regents Graduation pathway that includes internships.

School as network hub

School as network hub.

In the past, there were not the tools to enable the management of network-building experiences and no easy way to scale the curation of such a network. Now with ubiquitous tools like Google Suite as well as solutions like ImBlaze or Nepris, schools can easily cultivate and track the development of relationships with potential mentors as well as tackle some of the previously tricky challenges such as attendance reporting and tracking compliance documentation.

Really the only barrier to all schools becoming a local hub of professional networks is change in school design. How do educators begin to shift the notion of their practice? How do educators move from a place of ‘sage on the stage’ or ‘knowledge facilitator’ to a place of facilitating connections? These are perhaps the hardest barriers to this transformation.

An entirely new set of metrics may help: Future Quotient.

To help push innovation, an entirely new set of measures are in order. These include not only measuring the depth of student connection, but also the authenticity of their work and the degree to which they can create within a consumption-driven world. In other words, Future Quotient should include:

  • Network: How diverse and deep are a student's professional connections?

  • Real-world experience: How much time have students spent learning outside of school?

  • Creation: How much have students created instead of consumed?

Coming up with the tools to measure this Future Quotient are what is needed next. How do we adequately measure the depth of student networks, the impact of their real-world learning experience and their propensity to create instead of consume? Developing instruments for measuring these endeavors may legitimize a paradigm shift in education.


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