Last week I had the honor to attend the 140edu Conference in Manhattan. It was inspiring to be surrounded by so many smart people who are as passionate about education as they are about technology. As an employer, it was especially interesting to participate in discussions around what skills are most relevant for the future and how (or more accurately, if) these skills are being taught in the modern classroom.
While Adam Bellow was absolutely killing it with “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future,” he hit us with a quote that stopped me in my tracks. Somewhere in his 200+ slides and 5 videos, he said:
“Cheating in the real world is called ‘collaboration.’”
If anyone at the conference nailed it, it was Adam. Thinking of the work environment here at Substance, heck, thinking of my own work style, nowhere am I expected to problem-solve on my own, without input, insight, or direction from others. When presented with a new challenge, I turn to my co-workers, my social channels, the experience of others, and even good old-fashioned internet searches to help me find a solution. The internet, especially the real-time web, gives us ways to collaborate like never before, and even the smartest student is a liability as an employee if their collaboration and communication skills are non-existent.
Granted, it’s been more years than I’d care to admit since I’ve been in school, but from what I’ve seen and heard first-hand last week, testing is still a core part of a lot of education in the US. However, the idea of taking a test on your own, based solely on previously memorized knowledge, has little to no bearing in my professional life. To paraphrase another participant, “we should teach kids how to drive a car, not take the driving test.”
At 140edu I was excited to see both educators who championed technology in the classroom as well as students who thirsted for it. Looking at the students today and seeing the creative, productive, and dynamic workers of tomorrow, I think we should be encouraging them to learn how to become better “cheaters.” To use all of the tools at their disposal, to communicate and collaborate with their fellow students, both in the classroom and across the globe, to learn from each other and to develop 360-degree problem solving skills.
As the adage goes, if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying, and people who are trying to make a difference are the kind of people I want to see here at Substance.