average is just another so yesterday word

lego librarian

Last week, I attended a Teacher Librarian’s Conference at which Professor Erica McWilliam, scholar in the field of pedagogical innovation  and creative industries at QUT in Brisbane,  was a key note speaker. Whether you are a teacher, a librarian or a parent, I think it is important to heed what she said. These are my notes:

Professor Erica McWilliam , based much of her presentation on the theme explored in Tyler Cowen’s text; “What if Average if Over?”.

The premise of Prof William’s thesis was that no longer is coming from a “good home” with “good parents”, and going to a “good school” and getting “good results” before going to a “good university” enough to insure a “good job”. Or a “good life”. Our “A graders” may no longer go to university, and if they do certainly not for an undergraduate degree. These students, a small creative, cognitive elite, will go straight into specialized roles with the economy maybe accessing university at master’s levels when they may be sought out by the universities rather than they asking to go to that university.

What we term as our “B grade” students may be the only one going directly from high school to university, but there will be no notion of a “career” as we know it.

All learners need to  be smart editors of our information overloaded world!
Teachers and Librarians need to equip learners with the skills to obtain the signal from the noise (signal and noise as in communication theory). Learners need the ability to make smart judgments.

The creative, cognitive elite with these skills will be dynamic and agile, enabling them to add value to high-end services. Low-end services, which may even mean teachers and lawyers in some fields may find their roles outsourced globally. Individuals can no longer stagnant as employment will be short term, contract and project driven – the data shows this already.

For example, if a student wants to be a lawyer, for which there is an oversupply already, they should specialize in a high end, personal areas such as divorce law. There are hundreds of students undertaking journalism degrees for which there are no longer jobs. They should be publishing online before they leave high school. Students should be positioning themselves as a brand, and using tools such as LinkedIn.

Learners need to be creative and be able to enter the so-called “third space”. They need to enter that space we didn’t actually know was there, with unanticipated ideas. More than thinking outside the box! A little like thinking to add a fish gene in a tomato. (my note!)

The comment was made that once computers learn to fix other computers that level of IT technicians will also be redundant.

To be employable our learners will need to perform without requiring management. They cannot be needy for praise! They must be able to add value to computerized processes. Whatever they do, they must be able to do it extremely well. 

Teachers can no longer teach learners what they need to know.

2. What will wellbeing mean?

Spiritual wellbeing
Physical wellbeing
Financial wellbeing
Educational wellbeing

Educational wellbeing: not just going to university; not just academic success.

The role of teachers and librarians is to assist in personalized learning for self-improvement, for learners will be self-selecting their learning. This is outside of mandated learning.

Historically, there have been scientifically educated artisan classes and a new breed of inventors would arise from within. However, specialization and IT have meant that we are becoming more ignorant… but our learners need to be “usefully ignorant”! They will need to value add specialization.

Libraries have the position for self-directed learning and educational well-being. Libraries need to be different to the classroom.

Article to read “ No child left untableted” New York Times.

2 thoughts on “average is just another so yesterday word

  1. Freely admitting that I have no background in education and went to one whole semester of college before – 1). running out of money and 2). deciding I was wasting my time because I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life … I will limit my comment to the first two sentence of the paragraph in BOLD text – needing to perform without requiring management and not needing constant praise.

    Working a normal “drone” job as I do, we are having trouble finding younger people (and, heck, older people as well) that fill these requirements. Without supervision they’re concentrating more on the little screens in their hands than on their work, and without constant praise they don’t seem to be “incentivized” to change that first problem.


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