You’ve likely heard of Moore’s law. In Thomas Friedman’s latest book Thank You for Being Late he provides this explanation. In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore first postulated that the speed and power of microchips—that is, computational processing power—would double roughly every year, which he later updated to every two years. Moore’s law has held up close to that pattern for fifty years. The doubling has gotten so big and fast that we’re starting to see stuff that is fundamentally different in power and capability from anything we have seen before—self-driving cars and computers that can think on their own.
To demonstrate, Intel engineers did a rough calculation of what would happen had a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle improved at the same rate as microchips did under Moore’s law. Today, that Beetle would be able to go about three hundred thousand miles per hour. It would get two million miles per gallon of gas, and it would cost four cents! Intel engineers also estimated that if automobile fuel efficiency improved at the same rate as Moore’s law, you could, roughly speaking, drive a car your whole life on one tank of gasoline.
However, even though human beings and societies have steadily adapted to change, on average, the rate of technological change is now accelerating so fast that it has risen above the average rate at which most people can absorb all these changes. Many of us cannot keep pace anymore. This creates a number of challenges, including the way we educate our population. Friedman argues that when the pace of change gets this fast, the only way to retain a lifelong working capacity is to engage in lifelong learning.
Technology can create demand for totally new jobs even as it transforms the skills needed for some very old routine jobs that would seem to be made obsolete by computers and robots but actually aren’t. And it can vastly increase the skills needed to practice old jobs that have been transformed by technology. Friedman argues that at a minimum, “our educational systems must be retooled to maximize these needed skills and attributes: strong fundamentals in writing, reading, coding, and math; creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration; grit, self-motivation, and lifelong learning habits; and entrepreneurship and improvisation—at every level.”
What does all this mean for our students, staff, and families, in Worthington Schools? Certainly it means we have to become comfortable with change. We can’t do what we’ve always done as a school district and expect that our students will see the results they have always seen. The pace of change in society is accelerating and thus the pace of change in our school district must accelerate as well. Secondly we must focus on these important skills: fundamentals in writing, reading, coding and math; creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration; grit, self-motivation, and lifelong learning habits; and entrepreneurship and improvisation. If we can accomplish these things our students will continue to see success into their future.
-Trent Bowers, Superintendent
- Special thanks to Jim Mahoney Executive Director Emeritus, Battelle for Kids, whose book notes were the source of this post.