Sunday, January 17, 2010

Preparing for Jobs that Don't Exist!

“… schools are preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist…with technologies that haven’t been invented … in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet …” using technology that quickly becomes obsolete. If all this is true, then what should schools be teaching?

I think that it is very true that we are all preparing ourselves for a world that we know nothing about, however, I think it is very easy for us to prepare for this unknown. I think the best things that teachers can teach students are problems solving skills. Though we may not know what awaits us in the future, we can prepare for how we adapt to it by simply practicing adapting. Our blog for example, contains the same math that has been taught in the world for decades, while also teaching us how master new skills in the up and coming electronic world. The world's way of connecting and working is shifting into an electronic era and by adapting to the current technological changes we will be more prepared for whatever changes lie ahead. Teachers teach us to learn, from that we can learn to do anything!!!


  1. Hey Tubby, I like your idea about practicing adapting. I took a problem-solving class in college that I think sounds kind of like what you are talking about, we just did lots and lots of different kinds of problems from all different kinds of math (it was a really cool class).

    I'm curious how you think about these problem-solving skills carrying over? (This is a question I'm thinking about as a future teacher - why should my kids get really good at problem-solving in math if they want to be a fashion designer, or a chef?) What aspects of problem solving are universal? What makes learning about problem-solving in, say, mathematics useful in future unknown contexts?

    Also, can you clean this post up a tad? I'm not sure where the prompt stops at the top, and your last sentence is a little confusing, maybe you are missing a comma or something?

    Cool idea. I'm imagining training an army of adaptation experts.

  2. Your insight into what should be taught in today’s schools is echoed by The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. This national organization has suggested that to succeed in work and life in the 21st Century students will need the following skills and habits of mind: information literacy, cultural and global awareness, inventive thinking, problem solving, collaborative and interpersonal skills, adaptability, risk-taking, creativity, intellectual curiosity, accountability, and social responsibility. (

    In addition to the content of any particular course (or maybe in spite of it), schools give all of us (students and faculty alike) the opportunity to learn these essential skills of being human in order to lead happy and purposeful lives.

    Thanx for the thoughtful post.

  3. I don't think it matters which subject is teaching kids to problem solve. Math teaches kids very literal problem solving that has a set answer, but they will go through the same process in any other field they chose. They will start with a question and use the tools they have to generate an answer, as long as you can teach your kids to think out of the box and use different kinds of tools you can prepare your students for anything.

  4. Hey Tubby!
    I agree with you, that problem solving skills are what we need in order to succeed in the future, with the nonexistent jobs -in the present.
    But my question was how can we relate a skill learned in a maths class to a problem we might face in a career that doesn't relate to maths at all?

    As Kwad mentioned the "problem solving class", I was thinking that maybe it would more helpful if this class was required.

    I also think that an open mind is what is need before anything else.

  5. Marley,
    You are correct to question whether the skills learned in math class will translate to problems you might face in other areas of life and career. I would suggest that strategies and techniques we use to solve math problems are just as important to consider elsewhere. Skills like: working backwards, breaking a problem down into smaller more manageable pieces, starting with a more simple problem, checking your answer by a different method, listing the knowns and unknowns of the problem, making mental notes of what has worked and what has not worked, applying an old technique to a new situation. These and many more problem solving skills used to solve math problems could very easily be applied to problems that you face in other areas of life.

  6. Bru's point is well taken, I wanted to add that sometimes coming up with good problems or questions is even more important than solving them. This is a point made over and over by my favorite mathematician, Paul Erdos, who you can read about here: