The robots are coming for bad public school teachers: Is the American educational system ready?

According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, which first appeared in late 2017, 800 million workers across the world could lose their jobs to robots, including one-third of the workforce in the United States.  And while the report says that those who operate machines and "food workers" will suffer most, robots or automation, the report claims, will displace its share of mortgage brokers, paralegals, accountants and back-office workers.   

CBS's 60 Minutes last night had a segment on the future of robotics, showing the technology's rapid advances.

By 2030, if the experts are correct, anywhere from 39 million to 73 million jobs in the U.S. may be lost due to the robots.  If we consider just one trend of the digital decade, the decentralization of finance, what is called De-Fi, or financial transactions executed on the block chain,  intermediaries such as bankers, lawyers, mortgage brokers etc. will not be necessary to affect transactions that can be done transparently and within minutes in the digital universe. 

In a July 2020 study by MIT professor Daron Acemoglu and Boston University professor Pascual Restrepo, Ph.D., called "Robots and Jobs: Evidence from the U.S. Labor Markets," they calculated the following: "...for every robot added per 1,000 workers in the U.S., wages decline by 0.42% and the employment-to-population ratio goes down by 0.2 percentage points-to date, this means the loss of about 400,000 jobs."

The professors examined 19 industries and determined that "adding one robot reduces employment nationwide by 3.3 workers.”  And while workers without a college degree will be harder hit than those with a college degree, (at this point industrial robots are displacing workers at a far greater rate than other industries) the authors explain that at this point in America, there are relatively few robots affecting the U.S. economy today, but that will change dramatically by 2025, when they expect "5.25 more robots per thousand workers in the U.S. workforce."

So where does this leave the American educational system?  There are no easy answers.  What we hear from Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and education experts is that students should take a lot of math and science courses and learn coding.  That is all good and well, but that is not enough.  Not everyone will develop elite technical skills. 

Michael Chui, partner at the Mckinsey Global Institute summed up the issue well when he said:  "I don't think there's a way we can accurately say what skills and competencies students will need 15 years from now."  

Here is what we can do well.  We can ask the question, what made America one of the greatest countries in the world economically?   The answer is: American ingenuity. Ingenuity creates new jobs. It is part of the cycle of creative destruction.  Kevin Baker’s book: “American the Ingenious: How a Nation of Dreamers, Immigrants, and Tinkerers Change the World,” is a good place to start.  

Baker explains that “As more people access the internet and as more brains 'come online,’ I don’t see how both in this country and globally we are not going to be more innovative.”

And what is education if it is anything, it is the passing on of those principles that made a culture or a nation great in the first place. 

Future generations will need to understand now more than ever what makes innovation possible.  Three things stand out and are mentioned in Baker’s book: (1) a culture of freedom; (2) government policies that support and encourage innovation; (3) fostering teamwork and cooperation among those with like-minded interests.

The educational company I founded, called the Genius Group. works to understand the importance of teaching and preparing students to innovate. Currently private but planning to go public in the U.S. the education company offers both an online curriculum and physical campuses offering  K-12 up to graduate level degrees. It strives to offer this kind of necessary innovation.  

Through its ed-tech arm, GeniusU, they have already served 1.4 million students in 200 countries with hands-on, live, interactive entrepreneur-based content where students and professionals learn about the trends shaping the digital decade, artificial intelligence, digital currencies, decentralized finance, the metaverse, and more.  This school offers traditional curriculum but underpinned with entrepreneurial principles. 

What we are talking about here is entrepreneurial education, which importantly includes teaching students from as early as kindergarten the universal principles of success, qualities necessary to innovate.  

Here are five every student should be taught starting in kindergarten. 

1.     The importance of delayed gratification

2.     The Power of Persistence

3.     The Power of Hard Work

4.     The importance of developing communities of shared interests

5.     Setting concrete measurable goals with timelines for reaching them 

It's one solution, and hopefully, one of many.

Roger James Hamilton is a futurist and social entrepreneur. He is a NY Times bestselling author and the founder and CEO of Genius Group, the world’s No 1 entrepreneur education group. The Group has a global faculty, a global curriculum and global campuses including its online campus GeniusU, the edtech arm of Genius Group. Already they have served 1.4 million students in 200 countries, and with recent acquisitions valued at $80 million, revenue is expected to reach $35 million for 2020 with projected revenue of $100 million in 2021, the Company sees itself is as “a leader of the long-awaited revolution in education, with a bold mission to educate over 100 million entrepreneurs to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

Image: Screen shot from CBS 60 Minutes video, via shareable YouTube

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