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Luddites or Leaders?

posted Nov 6, 2016, 7:43 AM by Michael Reilly
A recent Elon Musk interview heard him discussing the future of our society, and how robots and artificial intelligence will be taking many of our jobs.  It is pretty unusual/cool/threatening to see how Uber is actually building a transportation company with no drivers, and how 18-wheelers and other trucks can also go driverless.  It's not someday, it's now.   

As a techie, I can easily see the cool factor.  It also helps me to embrace, and even teach the value of, dare I say it, social studies.  I had heard the term "Luddite" before, and just thought I knew what it meant, but I did not.  Near the end of the Elon Musk interview, an investor referred to the "Luddites destroying the sewing machines in England".  So, to the 'net!  Here's the Wikipedia link:

Wow, history is definitely repeating itself here, with some twists of course.  But what schools, educators, students, and families NEED to see is this inevitable influence on our future.  Will all jobs go away?  No.  Even some drivers, like bus drivers or ambulance drivers, are pretty safe (for a while) due to complexities of children, health, etc.  But cars are already driving people to the hospital based on the request of the patient...
But technology and the jobs related to it are real, and are growing.  The State of Georgia has put out numerous reports about tech job growth, and the current tech job demand.

In our world of education, it means we need to use this as a new emphasis on "hard work".  So many kids (and people) can be programmers or engineers, but this is difficult.  What does that mean?  Try harder, ask for more help, different help.  It also means that we as educators need to be much more flexible in our methods that support learning.  It is not TEACHING better, but better ways to LEARN.  And that's such a core reason for project-based learning; it is focused on LEARNING, not TEACHING.  

We did not start our PBL program with the intent of becoming a STEM program, it just happened.  But tech does not have to be hidden in a STEM program, nor does PBL.  However, we are on the edge of a period where our future workforce, our students, have to choose if they'd like to be part of the 21st creative workforce, or become a "21st Century Luddite".  They do have the power to choose, and we have the ability to support their direction.