In the 20th Century, high school education was about memorizing information and learning to function in rigid work environments like assembly lines. Desks were neatly arranged in rows and students were expected to be quiet and listen. Some experts believe that 40% of jobs could be replaced by artificial intelligence and automation in the next 15 years. In the 21st Century, we all have phones and computers and we can ask Google or Siri anything. So what’s the value of an education in a time when everything is available at our fingertips and how does one compete with automation in the job market? Now and in the future, employers need people who can problem solve and process information, something computers struggle to do.
Content vs Skills: Teachers at TAIS have to teach content and skills. Content is facts. Who was the first president of the United States? What does the atomic number mean? Skills are things students are able to do: solve a math equation, balance an exothermic reaction, make a cause/effect analysis, or write a research paper. Without content, students can’t do a skill, but content cannot be the end. Content can be easily gained online or from books, but skills must be taught, practiced, feedback is given, and practiced again until they are acquired. This is where teachers are necessary in education.
21st Century Skills
Critical Thinking: Problem-solving and analysis are key skills in the 21st-century marketplace. Compare/contrast, cause/effect, and supporting a conclusion with strong arguments are just a few of the skills that fall under this category.
Collaboration and Communication: In the workplace, teams are vital to getting things done. At TAIS, students complete a lot of group work. Tasks have to be divided up and individual strengths identified and capitalized on.
Information, Media, and Technology Literacy: Being able to navigate a rapidly changing workplace is key to being successful. Computer skills are no longer an addition to a resume, they’re an essential element. Everyone from doctors to businessmen and women must input their data, process it, and communicate through computers and technology. Students at TAIS create presentations, videos, and documents in regular classes and specific media classes teach design, video editing, typing, and many more technology and media skills.
Leadership: At TAIS, students are on campus two weekends a month. A variety of events and activities are undertaken in which students are able to take up leadership and learn to manage time and tasks. Students with a drive to lead have many opportunities from class officers to Student Association and community service trips and activities. Teachers and deans are close to students and quick to encourage them to take up roles where they can excel.
Creativity: In many core classes, students are given opportunities to develop and practice their creativity in project-based learning. In addition, TAIS allocates significant funds to art, design, and video classes where students can develop creative skills. This is an area that will be safe from computers and AI in the 21st Century. Graphic designers make good money and TAIS gives students a jump start with access to the software that professionals use.
To be competitive in the 21st Century, students must be educated in a different way. TAIS is focused on being at the cutting edge of this innovation so that students are ready for future job markets.