Want to get educators to stop and think? Remind them that our children five and under will graduate in the early 2030s. And then ask them if they wonder what the world will be like 15-20 years into the future. Ask them to go back 15-20 years and notice how much our lives have changed – how jobs and the economy have transformed, how technology has allowed us to personalize so much of our lives and how certain skills have become most valuable as we swim in a sea of both credible and not-so-credible information.
Then ask them if they think K-12 is preparing learners well enough for that imagined future. Need some resources to help create a greater sense of urgency than might already exists? Try this, this or this. Are we playing the long game in education? Or are we ignoring the future – the work of significance – over work of “urgency” such as test prep, archaic teacher evaluation systems and ranking schools based on test scores.
What are we missing that can help us focus on the long game – focus on preparing today’s learners for a VUCA world – one that is (and will continue to be) volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous? We’re missing a vision – a compelling vision for learning that will best prepare our learners for the world of the 2030s and beyond.
It’s a lot of work for leaders to listen to the voices of stakeholders, share ideas and data on the world we live in and what it will likely be in the future, and collaboratively develop a vision for learning. It’s not easy managing the distractions of the short game while preparing our organizations – and our children – for the long game. In the development of our Profile of a Graduate and Learning Beliefs, we’ve been guided by these two questions:
- What knowledge, skills and dispositions will our learners need for a successful future, whether graduating in 2017 or 2029?
- What should the learning environment look like for our learners to successfully develop these competencies?
With a clear vision, we can now ask the following question about all of our work – the urgent, important and significant: How does the work (project, initiative, human or financial resource) get us closer to the vision? That’s playing the long game.
Are you playing the long game? What’s your vision? What questions are you asking?
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