A New Era

How much is today different from yesterday? Gigantic changes have rocked society since the industrial age or the fifties. We live in an entirely different age with different conditions and different expectations. James Coleman, sociologist wrote that “in the early 1900s, kids lived in an information-poor but responsibility rich time.” It’s the reverse now, information-rich but responsibility poor for children. Yet schools are mostly unchanged from earlier times. It is a different era and schools need to respond. Here are some  major changes to ponder:

  • Family structure: smaller families, scattered relatives
  • More democratic families
  • Both parents work out of the home
  • More single-parent homes
  • Raised societal expectations of an educated person
  • Higher expectations on children and youth
  • More schooling expected
  • All students must graduate and achieve professional careers
  • Competency-based learning vs. seat time
  • Knowledge society, information age
  • Meager job opportunities for dropouts
  • New career areas: e.g. environmental risk assessment…
  • Closed factories, boarded-up small-town main streets
  • Multiple jobs/careers during a lifetime
  • Greater gender and race opportunities
  • Technological explosions
  • Scary world: kids can’t be gone for hours playing or exploring the neighborhood
  • An exponential increase in traffic, little walking to school
  • Ubiquitous soft drinks and unhealthy food
  • Employers have higher expectations, the ability to learn, problem-solve, multitask
  • Kids create their own subculture, language rules, dress, music
  • Society imposed adolescence uselessness
  • From big cars to small
  • Awareness of  environmental impacts

It’s a different era! Society has changed. Schools have not.