For some strange, obtuse reason, I really enjoy studying Economics. In a recent issue of The Economist, I read through a special section on the future of jobs. One article that reported on some findings at the McKinsey Global Institute caught my attention. The institute noted that there are basically three types of jobs in the world: transformational, such as construction jobs; transactional, or jobs performed by clerks, bank tellers, or call center people. These kinds of jobs lend themselves to automation. Finally, the third type of job: interactional; this type of job requires “knowledge, expertise, and collaboration with others.” Many medical jobs fit this category as does investment banking or management consultancy. As technology comes crashing into our orbit, transformational and transactional jobs are threatened because they lend themselves to technological automation. Only interactional work seems destined to survive because it is incredibly difficult to standardize.
To boil all of this down: If we want our students to have a meaningful economic stake in this future economy, they will need to be knowledgeable, creative, and collaborative individuals. They can no longer be just task masters. If they lose the ability to create and innovate, they just might find themselves left out of this future economy.
One of the best things I can do for my students is to promote creativity and collaboration. That is a fundamental goal in this Writers’ Workshop class. Students are learning to use technology as a means to express themselves and understand the world around them, but they are also learning how to work with other students and to accept criticism and advice. They critique each other’s writing, collaborate on story ideas, and support each other when the technology goes kaput. So, in a small way, I feel as though we are helping to acclimate our students to a future that will reward creativity, collaboration, and problem solving in its people.
Now, if I can just figure out how to keep that satellite out of my hair.