This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

December 10, 2003

Education Curricula Shift

School systems theoretically design and adjust their curricula---the courses that are taught to their communities' children---based on needs in the local community and around the world. Even though graduates move into national and international employment arenas, education remains a local purview---at least in the United States. Different countries have different policies about how education is delivered to students.

The world is changing, more rapidly than many of us would like to acknowledge. These changes will necessitate alterations in the world's educational systems. Moving toward today's student needs, educators have increasingly focused on encouraging more students to qualify and enroll in four-year colleges and universities. Employers have sought applicants with degrees from these institutions, regardless of the relevancy of the educational experience to the requirements of the job.

Indications are that we will need a different kind of educational system in the years ahead. While employers still appreciate graduates having a broad range of knowledge, they are practically begging for young people who can think, collaborate, communicate, coordinate, and create. Managers are frustrated with employees that have proficiency in particular skills, but are unable to effectively apply those skills to achieve results. There is a growing need for workers who can adapt quickly by learning new skills or knowledge and applying those strengths quickly to respond to customer expectations.

Over the next 20 years, school curricula will be more geared toward teaching skills in learning and problem solving rather than mere factual knowledge. The shift will give even more attention to critical thinking, concept development, group work, project based learning, and similar aspects of applied knowledge and process skills.

Our educational systems around the world will be agonizingly slow to adapt to changing needs. The answer lies in adult education and the workplace. Universities offering continuing education courses to [working] adults will introduce more of what they may call soft courses. Corporations are already investing in teaching these emerging skills and will promote such courses more heavily in years ahead. Corporate trainers will deliver these learning opportunities to employees at all levels, giving their companies a competitive edge.

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