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Did you ever wonder how life was before the internet? When all of your shopping took place in a brick and mortar store, and the speed in which change took place was at a much slower pace? Similar to the first industrial revolution when the steam engine changed people’s lives forever, the computer and the technology revolution has dramatically changed the way and speed in which we live today. No sooner does a new Apple phone hit the market that the next, best one is being advertised. How many times do you hear that I do my shopping on Amazon because it is much easier and many times less money?
Robots are a hot topic in today’s technologically charged world and are being observed in taking over jobs that were once done by humans. What will the implications be as we see more and more robots enter the workforce? Facebook revolutionized the way we communicate and Google the way we search for answers. All of this right at our fingertips. What skills do we need other than to hit some buttons and instantly get a response.  What does this all mean for the children who are growing up in this fast paced, technological world where we expect a spontaneous response with very little effort?
Are we conditioning our children to only deal with the current conditions that are upon them or should we realize that 21st century skills of critical thinking, collaborative teamwork, creativity and adaptability are vital for their future success? Virtual reality and augmented reality are becoming more prominent. If children become familiar and comfortable in these environments what does reality mean as they move forward? The real reality of what is unfolding before our eyes is that children are immersed in this fast-paced world and are being conditioned to respond to what is being placed in front of them. Constant success along with spontaneous gratification will not create a successful future. A future that we are not sure of how it will look, what skill set will be needed and what jobs will be prevalent when they reach the workforce. Will college be the place to be trained or will there be another venue for that time and place where you get the training necessary for the jobs of the future?
It is more important today than ever before that children get a strong foundation in how to think on their own, solve problems, be creative and adaptable. These will be the building blocks for their future success and give them an opportunity to meet the unknown challenges that await them in their future. If they are not trained at an early age to understand how to maneuver in an environment of uncertainty it could be more difficult for them to manage. Now is the time to do more project-based learning where children can work in teams, use their thought process to solve problems, create solutions and adapt when the need arises. This doesn’t just happen, but must be part of their everyday approach to life. It is not just for the workplace, but used when walking down the street and making sure they stay in a safe environment.  It is necessary to select the appropriate products to buy amongst a barrage of marketing ploys to captivate their interest. How else will they be able to navigate through the uncertainty of their future, but to have the ability to think on their feet and make the appropriate decisions for what is needed?
This just doesn’t happen overnight. There is a process by which children achieve the ability to execute these skills. It starts at home where parents should foster an environment in which children are given time to work out their own solution to appropriate scenarios that confront them. This type of atmosphere fosters confidence, a stronger self-esteem and the ability to feel good about their accomplishments. Project based learning should be carried over throughout their education in school as well. This approach should be a continuum rather than executed once in awhile. The only way children can become proficient in the ability to have strong 21st century skills is to continually be challenged to use them.
A good question to ask at this point is, “What do you think?”