Pulitzer prize-winning New York Time columnist and author Thomas Friedman recently consulted with GETideas.org contributor Tony Wagner about the changing workforce landscape and implications for young people. Friedman asked Wagner to elaborate on his statement that the goal of education should not be to make kids “college ready” but “innovation ready”. Wagner responded, “because knowledge is available on every Internet-connected device, what you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know. The capacity to innovate — the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge. As one executive told me, ‘We can teach new hires the content, and we will have to because it continues to change, but we can’t teach them how to think — to ask the right questions — and to take initiative.’ ” Wagner went on to note students will need basic academic knowledge, entrepreneurial skills, and intrinsic motivation to create their own opportunities in the future. Even more significantly, Wagner seems to call for a new direction in ed reform efforts by indicating that play, passion and purpose should be more of the focus when teaching young people. Teachers should serve as coaches and be able to assess students through series of performance-based tasks. In conclusion, Wagner lists a few places where this kind of leadership thinking is being applied.
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