Free public education in North America was based around a workforce that was largely industrial. As technology increased the industrial jobs dissipated. As globalization occurred, outsourcing happened. With this, we are becoming left with a service industry (working in retail) and the "conceptual" industry. We do not know what the paradigm will be in three years. Unfortunately one of the biggest downfalls of education as it sits right now is a lack of acceptance that not every student is going to become doctors, lawyers, engineers. We as a society are forgetting the necessity of the manual labour jobs, and we will pay for it in time.
The 21st century paradigm of teaching and learning has completely changed the formerly set disposition regarding teachers, authority, and the future.
In his book The World is Flat, Friedman sets the record straight in that pre-Millennials and post-Millennials perceive the world quite contrastingly, for which a shift of paradigms must occur for both generations to align.
In the paradigm view of 21st century teaching and learning, the model to follow is this:
Schools as the learning authority: no longer will be buildings, but "learning pods" in which each classroom will set its own group goals and, within each "pod", every student will set personal goals for learning. Classrooms show data-based results that will help each individual student determine whether their set-up goals and plans are working in an interactive way. In other words, the school is no longer a "place FOR learning" but a "source OF of learning".
Teachers: in the past, education was basically teacher-centered. "All eyes on the teacher", "absorb, digest, produce", and "the teacher is in charge". In the 21st century paradigm, the teacher is a facilitator, rather than a professor of knowledge. This facilitator must have a TPACK -based preparation (Technological, Pedagogical, and Content-based knowledge) that will help reunite every possible resource to aid in the student's discovery and research of new information. The facilitator's role becomes more respected and appreciated when it takes backstage to become the "producer" of the learning experience, rather than the "director", or "main actor". The student will be both self-directed and active as the teacher serves as the intermediary between the resource and the learner.
Future: In the wise words of Thomas Friedman
winners will be those who learn the habits, processes, and skills most quickly—and there is nothing that guarantees it will be Americans or Western Europeans permanently leading the way.
The survivor of this rapidly-changing society will not be the one who whines the most or the one who fights the hardest to change the system. The system will inevitably change on its own; flexibility and "plasticity" of habit will be come the ultimate tools of survival in a world that will become faster and less bound to rules of rigour.
We live today in the Conceptual Age; no longer can we predict nor design a model of what society will become in the next 3 years. This is why it is imperative for teachers to become models of change so that the students, as agents of change, can learn to understand the speed at which life will come to them. 21st century instruction MUST be properly in place to ensure success for our future generations, and for the future of our country as a powerful nation.