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Gifted Students: Working in the Future

Posted by Categories: Gifted Education, Gifted Students

By 2030, over 2 billion jobs will disappear, according to Thomas Frey, futurist. But, not to worry, these jobs will be replaced by new jobs, most of which have not even been invented yet. There will always be plenty of work to do! As educators, it is incumbent upon us to do our part to prepare the future workforce for an uncertain future of unnamed jobs. A hefty task!

Why is this task of particular concern to educators and parents of gifted students? Surely gifted students will always be able to find or create work, right? Possibly; but what should be important to us as educators is that these students of great potential are prepared to engage in work and careers that are reflective of their abilities, that these young people are poised to become leaders in cutting edge, emerging fields, and that they are using their abilities in these fields to maximize individual self-actualization, as well as that of the global society.

So how do we do that? I think there are several pathways educators and parents can contribute to in helping our gifted students be prepared for the future world of work and to enter their adult lives with self-confidence and with skills that will help them cope with whatever happens.

As Einstein said, imagination is more important than information. Our students already have all the information they can imagine needing at their fingertips. We need to focus on teaching them the mental processes and skills that will allow them to use information in novel and usable ways. We already are aware that our curriculum and its embedded activities must incorporate higher level thinking skills. We just need to make sure those skills also include the tools that futurists use, such as anticipatory thinking and forecasting techniques, use of historical data, trending, simulation, and modeling, to name a few. We need to make sure our students know various problem-solving processes and engineering design protocols, that they have a global view and awareness of the world, and that they can think independently with the ability to self-evaluate.

So, while knowledge of the future world of work is great for all students, we want to make sure our gifted students are aware of and prepared for their roles as creators of the next generation of industry, unnamed jobs, nascent careers, and ridiculously rapid change. To accomplish such a goal, students will need to understand the importance of always being on the path of reinventing themselves, learning how to connect with people possessing mutual interests and goals, and understanding how to make their career goals align with positive societal outcomes.

One way we are attempting to bring this awareness and skill development into focus is through a new course we are offering to 13-14 year olds in our SIG summer programs. The course is titled Working the Future. It will strive to make gifted students aware of the changing world of work and prepare them for success through engaging them in the processes that will serve them well over time, while they identify (and possibly creating) potential current and future careers that intrigue them.

What do you do in your life to positively affect the future world of work for gifted students? Please share your ideas with us by emailing me at bswicord@giftedstudy.org.

All the best,

Dr. Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.
Executive Director, National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)

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