Our future knowledge workers
This morning I attended an event at my son’s school. The pupils – 4th graders i.e. 9-10 years old were each to make a short presentation on a topic that interests them and which they had researched.
A few things struck me as being quite different from my own school days at that age. In particular:
– All the presentations were done using Powerpoint and through a microphone
– They were asked NOT just to read what they had written but talk to and elaborate on the slides. For the most part they did this surprisingly well – something I wish we could teach more grownups to do.
– They were asked to cite references – almost all of them used wikipedia. All sources cited were from the web.
– about half chose “serious” topics including George VI, Pablo Picasso and Dinosaurs. About half were popular culture topics including Jennifer Lopez and a lacrosse player and a football palyer that I’d never heard of! All were incredibly detailed.
Maybe I shouldn’t be struck by any of this – but I found it very interesting how relatively comfortable they all already were in public speaking, using powerpoint and using the internet for research. I also saw how popular culture, especially sports and music already fills up a lot of children’s passion and mind-space.
Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t put any of the presenters up in front of a business audience to present just yet – but they’ve certainly got a big head start over where my generation were in school or even in college and our early working lives. I can barely imagine what they will be able to do when they join the workplace and how they will challenge our exisiting ways of thinking and working.