Take all the math you possibly can, the company suggested—while also finding time to study computer science, economics, engineering, neuroscience, and philosophy; cultivate mentors; think about vexing challenges in new ways; and publish your own open-source code. But such advice also raises red flags, especially for those observers who are most alarmed by the ways technology is upending the labor market.
One fear is that the bar for making today's students future-proof is becoming unrealistically high.
An elite coder with vision, people skills, and high-powered mentors, New York City 9th grader Emma Yang is as close to future-proof as a 13-year old can get.
But with technology radically reshaping the labor market, schools face a monumental challenge preparing all students to thrive in a murky future.
It's about the present," said former West Virginia Gov. "But schools aren't sure how to change what they're doing, or even what questions to ask." That's why Education Week is launching a new line of special coverage on what the changing nature of work means for the K-12 sector. Will the jobs available now still be around in 2030? What about apprenticeships, career-and-technical education, and "lifelong learning?
Or, plenty of jobs could still exist, but today's students could be locked in a fierce competition for a few richly rewarded positions requiring advanced technical and interpersonal skills.In 2014, for example, the Pew Research Center surveyed 1,896 experts.Nearly half said they "envision a future in which robots and digital agents have displaced significant numbers of both blue- and white-collar workers." Many are worried that the trend "will lead to vast increases in income inequality, masses of people who are effectively unemployable, and breakdowns in the social order." What would such a future mean for today's schools?And with artificial-intelligence systems starting to write their own code, it's entirely possible that many of the six-figure computer-science jobs currently available could eventually be lost to technology, too.In such a scenario, how many jobs would be left at the top of the labor-market pyramid? The company may be worth 0 billion, but it employs just 20,000 people. Now you can see why lots of reasonable people are drawing dire conclusions.