Education in the 21st Century

  • November 12, 2015 | Rob Macaulay

I have recently enjoyed reading a book by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith entitled “Most Likely to Succeed – Preparing our Kids for the Innovation Era.”  The authors of the book, one from the education field and the other a leading venture capitalist, are calling for a revamp of the American education system.  They argue that, as was shared by Greg Royce at the beginning of this year, traditional schooling was engineered more than a century ago to produce a workforce for a world and economy that no longer exists.  Their primary argument is that the system, which produced a mixed range of white and blue collared workers to provide employees for corporates and factories, crushes the creativity and initiative that young people need to survive in today’s economy.  There is an interesting section in which they show how our schools would “educate” children to ride a bike. Written tests, in which knowledge of bicycle parts, the history of bicycles and the mathematical formulae with regards to various gear combinations would be the measure of “Bicycle 101”.  Children who struggled to remember the facts, complete the calculations or predict uphill and downhill speeds would fail and would have to attend “extra lessons”.  Those who were able to remember and regurgitate these measurables would be termed “gifted cyclists.”  And no one would ever ride a bike…


As we enter the time of end-of-year assessments, I thought that Wagner and Dintersmith’s message may serve to remind us why our children are at primary school and to provide room for reflection regarding the pressure that we put on our boys in an ever increasingly marks-driven environment.