In many cases, companies that are based in the US can’t survive on the global market because they don’t have innovative products or the qualified workforce required to develop them. -Rolf Langhammer, German Economist
The above quote is noteworthy for two reasons:
First, the workforce diss wasn’t uttered in the same tired “ed reform” rhetoric we hear each day. In fact, U.S. public education issues weren’t even on the radar. It appeared in an international publication where Langhammer, vice president of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, was being interviewed about the currency war and the revaluation of the Chinese yuan. Important context.
Second, he’s right—we don’t have the qualified workforce, and won’t, because our schools simply aren’t designed to teach kids how to develop anything—they were designed, a century ago, to create a population of product producers (more here). What’s worse, many of the current popular reforms will not only perpetuate, but actually exacerbate this serious problem.
The video below does a beautiful job explaining and framing this issue. I strongly encourage watching the whole thing.
We know we’re shifting from globalization toward “globality”. We know soft skills are critical for success. We know there is a looming higher education gap. We know almost all of the nation’s net new jobs come from entrepreneurs.
Yet, most public schools can only offer scant exposure to world languages, the arts, cultural studies, entrepreneurialism, technology infusion, project-based learning and other activities that clearly contribute to needs of the new knowledge economy.
In addition to the “three R’s” and STEM, we should be graduating kids who—at minimum—have learned to play a musical instrument, have experienced a robust arts curriculum, can speak a second language, have some college credit, are financially literate, have participated on a team, can manage the ever-increasing volume and velocity of information, have taken a course online, and have an appreciation for other cultures inside our borders and across the globe.
Yes, I’m suggesting “at minimum”.
And that’s not pie-in-the-sky eduspeak. That’s an economic reality.
We simply don’t value, in terms of policy and funding, the very things that are imperative to our economic future. But one thing’s for sure—we’ll be incredibly prepared for a bygone industrial age.