I don’t remember when I decided that writing was something I wanted to do as a career. As a child, my eclectic career aspirations included waitress, trucker, Olympic softball player, first female major league baseball player, and veterinarian. (I did fulfill my childhood dream of working as a waitress eventually, but by that time my enthusiasm had definitely worn off.) Writing didn’t enter the realm of possibility until later, when I realized that it was something I was actually good at and had a chance of turning into a line of work. I never would have imagined that I would end up writing about 3D printing, though – 3D printing wasn’t even something I’d heard of. The technology existed when I was in school, but it was strictly industrial and certainly wasn’t something most people were aware of or interested in. I was well out of college by the time the first commercially available 3D printer emerged.
Likewise, many of today’s elementary school children will ultimately end up in careers that they won’t know anything about for years. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that don’t exist yet. This may not seem like cause for concern, but experts worry that technology is advancing so quickly that education won’t be able to keep up. The skills that students are learning today – even in schools with access to cutting-edge technology – may already be obsolete in a few years.
So how do educators keep up? Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of MakerBot, argues that while teaching kids about technology is important, it’s more vital to teach them how to adapt to rapid change. On Monday, March 7, Jaglom will lead a panel at SXSWedu entitled “Teaching the Startup Mentality,” in which panelists will discuss ways of teaching students new technologies along with new ways of thinking.
“Instead of learning technical skills that will be obsolete in a couple of years, educators should focus on teaching skills that enable students to adapt quickly to a changing job market like problem-solving, project management, and working within a team,” MakerBot notes in the latest blog. “In today’s competitive, fast-paced world, a new paradigm is emerging: the startup mindset. Many successful entrepreneurs disregard the status quo, focus on possibilities and favor rapid iteration rather than rely on slow bureaucratic processes to get things done.”
Educators can help students cultivate this mindset while at the same time building their technological skills. 3D printing is a great way to combine tech education with “the startup mentality”; after all, some of the most successful companies in the 3D printing industry began as small startups. It’s also a technology that requires a lot of patience and problem-solving skills, as anyone who has ever dealt with a flawed design or failed print job will know. The World Economic Forum predicts that the 3D printing industry will require massive amounts of new workers by as early as 2020, so it’s a critical skill for students of all ages to learn. Working through the entire design and printing process in the classroom will not only teach kids the technical skills required, but will also give them practice in thinking creatively, working around problems, and adapting as needed.
In addition to Jaglom, panelists will include:
- Yolanda Valencia, Science and Engineering Department Chair at Gulliver Schools
- Jim Zahniser, A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland
- Ryan Grepper, inventor of The Coolest Cooler
The panel will take place from 2:00 to 3:00 PM at the Austin Convention Center on March 7, as part of the SXSWedu Conference and Festival. What are your thoughts on teaching kids skills for the future? Discuss in the MakerBot & Startup Mentality forum over at 3DPB.com.