Embracing Change and The New Normal: Education

Society has always been shaped by change. Change Management, in my opinion, is a concept that can be applied in any aspect of life situation. I have included a published article I wrote in 2018 for the Oracle User Acceptance Group community on the website, and you can read it here. I believe those principles can be applied to any sort of organizational driven change. In this case, my argument is for continued social change and reform as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Specifically, I am talking about education. I think this graphic is cool as it shows the perception surrounding education from 1934 – 1991.

“Other statements of educational purpose have also been widely accepted: to develop the intellect, to serve social needs, to contribute to the economy, to create an effective work force, to prepare students for a job or career, to promote a particular social or political system. These purposes offered are undesirably limited in scope, and in some instances they conflict with the broad purpose I have indicated; they imply a distorted human existence. The broader humanistic purpose includes all of them, and goes beyond them, for it seeks to encompass all the dimensions of human experience.” —Arthur W. Foshay, “The Curriculum Matrix: Transcendence and Mathematics,” Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 1991

The above statement is from almost 30 years ago. Think about everything that has happened since 1991. Technology has gone insane, which has impacted every aspect of our lives and in my opinion, will not stop changing. Logic would dictate that if technology is changing every aspect of our lives, why are we not drastically changing education to match it?

COVID-19 is now forcing that change. For everyone who has kids at home learning virtually, you kids are learning things that kids didn’t necessarily learn historically. Kids still need to learn the basics and have the foundations, but if we are preparing them for the future, there are intangibles being taught now that are paramount. I am talking about time management, self-awareness, and accountability.

Elementary school aged kids are going to be in the workforce 15 – 20 years from now. As I mentioned above, think about all of the change that happened in the last 20 years. We need to stop educating our kids for the world as it is today and start educating our kids for the world that is trending for tomorrow. Prior to COVID-19 there was already a trend of virtual work and interactions. Things like E-Sports, Zoom Calls, and Online Shopping have been trending for years. That trend isn’t going anywhere! So, as we continue to get closer as a society through social media, but further apart physically, there are certain personal intangibles that are going to be necessary for people to be successful in the future.

Quick Side Bar:

When I am talking about education, I am talking about it as a whole. Education to me is not only the school system, but the way we as parents interact and hold our kids accountable at home. I also am a firm believer that the majority of what a person learns is done in the home and in their social circles.

Time Management – in the past things have been so structure for people, class schedules, home work assignments, practice times, as a kid it was fairly easy to go through life up until college without having to critically think about managing time. In fact, managing my time, was probably the biggest skill I learned throughout college. (I miss college, anyone have a time machine?) Kids today learning virtually have more “free time” or flexible schedules. As a parent, we are taking the time and energy to force some time management techniques that normally you would not have to really push until later on in a child’s development. But, this will translate to many different jobs in the future. Working remote requires you to manage your time and your work load more so than you used to be able to in the office. Working in the office it’s easier to stay on task and focus because you are surrounded by everyone else who is focused on their work. Working virtually both at a job and in school requires you to pay attention and manage your time without succumbing to the numerous distractions around the house.

Self-awareness – I mean. We just had someone start to go to town on themselves while on a live Zoom call. The chances of things like this happening at the rate they are happening now (talking on hot mics) will be significantly lower as we continue down this trend. The reason is, people as a whole are continuing to get educated through experience on how to navigate the virtual world that is growing. Self-awareness doesn’t just have to do with video call decorum though, it also will translate to creating a learning or work environment that works for you. Everyone learns and works differently. I happen to be the type of person that NEEDS to have something on while I am working. Whether it be ESPN, music, or a podcast (like I am listening to as I write this), I cannot work in silence. My mind tends to wander, and I end up staring into space thinking about random stuff and before I know it, 3 hours has gone by. It’s up to parents to recognize what environment works best for their kids and teach their kids what that means for them and how they can thrive when they are in the appropriate environment.

Accountability – This is a struggle for any kid. But, the quicker they can be educated to rely on themselves to be accountable to themselves, the more successful they will be in the future we are going towards. This is a future where there are no teachers walking around a classroom making sure you’re paying attention or learning the material. There’s an enormous opportunity, especially for older kids to plagiarize assignments and use the internet as a resource to avoid learning. Learning to hold yourself accountable to things that need to get done as well as things that you yourself want to get done is a learned behavior that we need to teach our kids to guarantee that they are successful in whatever direction they decide to take in life.

What is working against everyone, not only kids, is this perception that those who are super successful, don’t do all of the things described above. Sure, I can assume that there are a few cases where that’s not the case, but I think for the most part many people only pay attention to things on the surface. Take someone who is famous on Instagram however, just from posting pictures. I think the knee jerk reaction is to shame that person and I have heard things or said things like:

 

Boy I wish I could just take a couple pictures a day and post them online.

Wow, do they even work?

That seems like the easiest job in the world.

The reality is, these people aren’t going away. Instagram influencers, Tik Tok, Triller, these platforms will only continue to grow, and morph and our kids will consume their content, because, IT IS ENTERTAINING. As parents, I believe we must stop the attitude of: “oh that’s so silly”, “I can’t believe that person gets paid that much money”, or “What a waste of time”. In reality, these people are playing the game, they are hustling and making money, while taking advantage of the newest trends. That’s not their fault. Instead, as parents, we need to focus on the work, on the effort, on the dedication to the craft to get to where they are in their career. Whether it’s adhering to a healthy routine and working out to stay healthy, or constantly thinking of different shoots or outfits or dances, there is work there. While the work that some people are doing isn’t something that you can identify with, it doesn’t mean there isn’t work.

We cannot enact systematic change overnight, what we can do is make a conscious effort to change the way we educate our kids for the future; rather than educating them for today. Embrace the way society is changing instead of clinging to the past. This will help prepare your kids for success and continue to keep you involved with their world and not let it pass you by. We are always changing, being intentional with the way we change can help us shape a better future for us and those that come after us.

~RD

2 comments

  1. I kept waiting for this to be a satire piece. I find it amusing when people believe that computers and less interaction are the way of the future and accept it. At the same time, they cry about climate change and the lack of jobs. All of the things mentioned can be easily and clearly tied into the unchecked, and unregulated advancement of technologies. I understand embracing change, but not change for the sake of change. It is dangerous and not wise. The majority of college students do not perform or learn well in online classes. Sure, most get good grades but rather they read for the answers rather than take the time to thoroughly learn and discuss as they would in a physical classroom. I personally, feel the more humans look to computers and are accepting of computer technologies the weaker our society becomes and clearly more disenfranchised. Sticking to core human values and beliefs, such as physical interaction and communication I find to be extremely important. All the values and behaviors you spoke about can be taught and engrained in children without the acceptance of social media’s and the “new celebrity” as I would refer to them. It doesn’t take long for a smart, educated individual to learn computers or understand their workings. I believe it’s a fact that technology has dumbed down society, by and large, and most definitely helped degrade the morality of our world. I do hope that one day people can realize the negative and adverse affects of this rapidly changing world. I am a dreamer though, and I can understand your thoughts of embracing a change, etc. However, is it embracing because you feel their is no choice or embracing because you think it’s the best for the children and our world? I’m curious. PS – I do enjoy reading your pieces.

    • Thanks Ryan!

      I thought about going the satirical route on this one, and opted against it. I believe in accepting it, because to choose not to, would (in my belief) put my children behind the learning curve. I agree that in person instruction is 1000x better, I have kids on the hockey team that are struggling. Some subjects, also do not lend themselves to being taught virtually, like the sciences, or nursing, etc. I think the overall point I was attempting to convey is that if the change is embraced, and we teach kids to make the best of a virtual situation, they will be prepared for a virtual world and also have a leg up when it comes to current normal experiences.

      This is the only comment that I would tend to disagree with: “It doesn’t take long for a smart, educated individual to learn computers or understand their workings.”. The correction I would make is: “It shouldn’t take long for a smart, educated individual to learn computers or understand their workings.”, but the fact is that it often does. I have worked with some insanely smart people in Healthcare for example, and getting them to enter data in the system is a nightmare. It’s not due to a lack of intellect (punny), but due to a lack of WANT to, which is where my “embracing” the change stance comes in to play.

      🙂

      Thanks so much for reading!

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