In the 1860s, a typical classroom consisted of rows of desks that faced the front of a class where a teacher would stand and lecture. Student work, presentations, and lessons all revolved around memorizing content. At the time, teaching students this way adequately prepared them for a limited set of career opportunities. 150 years and two industrial revolutions later, many classrooms and curricula across the United States look the same.
The world is on the brink of a technological transformation known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Its impact is expected to rival the significance of advancements such as steam power, electricity, cement, computers, and textiles – influential improvements that shape the quality of life today. New Tech Network (NTN) schools prepare students for an unknown future by emphasizing skills and scores in their everyday school life. Helping students learn how to think, create, communicate, and collaborate will help them in any postsecondary path they pursue. NTN students graduate with problem-solving and personal agency skills that make them highly desirable employees.
Educators face competing priorities in the classroom every day: trying to imbue students with skills relevant to their future while also teaching content mastery and complying with state assessments. Despite good intentions, much of the education system remains isolated from the realities outside of the classroom. Too often, students are still passed from grade to grade, disengaged and unprepared for the next step in their educational or career journey.
NTN believes that the most effective way to develop workforce skills in students is to integrate the practice of each skill in every facet of learning. Incorporating bolt-on programs or offering project-based learning elements as electives is tempting since they’re easily implemented, but these measures are not as beneficial to students compared to developing skills like agency, communication, and collaboration. NTN believes that students who use these skills in subjects like math, science, and language arts are significantly more engaged, and more successful both academically and developmentally.