The Value of Lifelong Learning and a Growth Mindset

We know that the world our children inherit will be significantly different than ours.  They will change jobs with regular frequency (“every three years for the rest of your life”), most will have at least four jobs before they are 32 years old) and the skills they need will be different than those that were sufficient in the 20th century.  To be successful in this new economy, the value of being intrinsically motivated and a lifelong learner is invaluable.  The district in which I work, Brewster Central School District in New York, actively responds to these ongoing shifts.  We recognize the importance of teaching  our students and ourselves to approach life’s challenges in what respected research expert Carol Dweck describes as a growth mindset.  A fixed mindset will not serve tomorrow’s leaders and thinkers.

Interestingly, this mantra of change with which we’ve been engaged as educators is not always embraced by those in other fields, particularly pseudo leaders, some media outlets, and test publishers.  Some of these groups still value a cumulative, one size fits all standardized test–rather than a series of self-directed and collaborative learning experience–as a measure of our children’s success.  I will sidestep the absurdity of high stakes cumulative assessments–as compared to frequent formative assessments aligned to various learning styles–and maintain focus on the urgency of inspiring lifelong learners who respect, anticipate, and adapt well to change.

With increasing regularity, the need to evolve and relearn is evident.  This is true not only in careers but in the tools we use and the products we create or support.  We are, as speaker Molly Schroeder states, “living in beta.”

There will be approximately 5,500 jobs “lost”, yet according to WSJ nearly an equal number will be created as the technology giant, “moves to shed costs and make room to hire employees with new talents.”

Nowhere is the need for lifelong learning and anticipating change with a growth mindset more evident that in the fast-changing technology industry. This Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Cisco Systems was laying off more nearly 7% of its workforce. There will be approximately 5,500 jobs “lost”, yet according to WSJ, yet nearly an equal number will be created as the technology giant, “moves to shed costs and make room to hire employees with new talents.”  The value of evolving along with the ongoing changes and pursuing continued growth is essential to tomorrow’s workers–today’s students.

If there is any doubt around the scope of these global changes, the headlines continue to drive the point home.  A recent Forbes article examines the changes in the educational technology arena.  With the future so evidently upon us, there is no time for outdated learning tools and practices designed for a work culture that no longer exists.  The impact of change is already impacting our current workforce, and now is the time to prepare our next generation for the frequent changes and transitions they will inevitably experience.  A growth mindset is essential, as to do otherwise is to graduate young adults without the necessary perspective to succeed and meet tomorrow’s challenges with gusto.

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