Well, I've paddled down that stream a while, and now I've kinda got crunchy eyebrows because I think it's a lot of huff and puff (possibly to sell books or secure speaking engagements) about what's simply an element of the human condition.
I mean, there are plenty of jobs around now that weren't even dreamed about when I was a kid. Same as kids who went to school in 1950. Or 1850. Isn't it the nature of the beast? Human society and technology evolves, and being the enterprising animals that we are, we learn to adapt to it.
Haven't teachers always prepared students for a world they can't envisage, by default?
I started school in an era with no classroom computers. By the end of primary school, there were two Apples in my school, which were monopolised by the two naughty boys in my class so the teacher could teach the rest of us without interruption (I think I got to watch a kid play Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? once). In high school, we had a lab of slow old machines and we learnt how to use word processors and the differences between hardware and software. In my first year of University in 94, the internet was just starting to poke its head out in Australia and I racked up a sizeable Ozemail bill and annoyed my parents with battles over the phone line.
Yet here I am, just over 20 years later, and I'm a fluent technology user, using it creatively and flexibly to solve problems.
Amazingly, I did this without any paradigm-shifting pedagogical approaches from my teachers. We had text books for maths and English, rote learnt our multiplication tables, and mostly worked on our own, with the occasional group task. We didn't have to engage in metacognitive musings after every lesson, reflecting on our progress. There were no explicit lessons about learning how to learn, or how to be creative, or how to collaborate - we simply fed our brains on the stuff that society deemed was important at that time.
Could it have been more engaging? In many cases, yes. Did it fail to equip me with the skills I needed to prepare me for a futureworld requiring unknown skill sets? Not at all.
And sure, I'm no Einstein. I'm not creating earth-shattering inventions or changing the fate of humanity. But I'm pretty sure that this is down to me being pretty much smack in the middle of the bell curve, rather than poor educational opportunities. (And to be fair, Einstein didn't really appear to be adversely affected by his 19th century education).
This isn't to say that teachers should be dishing out educational tripe to students and demanding they consume it. It isn't to say that it's OK to be a Luddite who rejects all technology. We still have a duty to try and instill a love of learning and create engaging learning experiences, using a range of methods and tools. We still have a duty to keep an eye on the changing world around us and connect that to our classrooms.
I just think we need to stop for a moment and breathe. We need to critically analyse the supposed "paradigm shift". We need to engage in more robust debate about what's really important, and not simply worship at the altar of Mitra because TED-gave-him-a-million-bucks-so-he-must-be-right or drinking the Robinson kool aid because he's a charismatic speaker with a groovy sketchnote who's blowing your mind with things you'd never stopped to consider before (because Jim Jones was pretty good at that, too.)
But there are babies being thrown out with the bathwater right now. There are definitely cases to be made for change and adaptation, but they should not come at the expense of dismissing the accumulated knowledge of learning that we've developed as a species thus far. As Picasso once said, you need to “learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
Anyway, that's enough for today. Time to step away from the minutiae, turn on some Talking Heads, and crawl back inside my comfortable little bubble of existential nihilism for a while.