We live in an age of driverless cars, thought-controlled biomechanical limbs, and robots shifting heavy pallets of goods across warehouse floors. These were all dreams of yesterday, and each was supposed to take decades to be realized, if it could be realized at all. But here they are. Google’s driverless cars routinely glide along the 101, nimbly slowing to evade the sometimes erratic driving of others. At Amazon, robots routinely lift pallets and move them distances in what is today the most advanced warehouse in the world. This brave new world that we’ve been thrust into is not without its perils. Individuals worry about the sheer masses of personal data that are available, from health records (including those generated by your personal fitness device that records vital signs and sends them directly to your doctor’s office), to financial records (including those generated every time you buy or sell a stock, a piece of property, or file a tax return), to educational records (every time you enroll in a class, receive a grade, or a certificate). This does have benefits for some, however scary it might be for many. It is likely to make statisticians some of the most sought after employees of the future as corporations try to find patterns and sort the relevant and significant from the trivial in the masses of data already accumulated. By contrast, the dilemma for educators is how best to prepare students for a future which is hurtling to meet us at an ever quickening pace. What do we want our students to be prepared to be and do?
The in-demand employee of the future is likely to be one who is creative and innovative, able to see how to rearrange the present to meet the needs of the future. Such an employee will be a digital native, able to not only use a computer as an extension of herself, but able to work in concert with those aspects of business and commerce that are already automated. Robots are ubiquitous in warehouses and on the factory floor, but they also routinely perform surgery—the worker of the future will have to be able to work with them to enhance their power and productivity even further.
At The Help Group, we are acutely aware of the demands that the modern work place makes on our students if they are to be successful. In consequence, we want our students to have a breadth of knowledge across a broad band of subjects, but also be able to address issues within those subjects in depth. We want students who are collaborative, responsive and thoughtful, who are articulate and able to present their ideas coherently, and who are passionate and able to defend their point of view with vigor. We want our students to have studied not just the bare minimum for a high school diploma, not just biology and chemistry, but also physics, physiology and environmental science; not just algebra and geometry, but pre-calculus and calculus, and statistics too; not just history and economics, but international relations and geopolitics as well. We believe that the successful employee of the future will need such a background and the understanding and training that go along with it. By requiring students to construct digital portfolios of their academic experience, and by giving them the opportunity to engage in robotics and videography, to code and make a documentary, and to debate and present in public both for their peers and teachers and the community, we support their future success no matter what their particular interest. This is how we ensure student success in the digital age.