Will Education Need a Facelift or Forklift to Ensure the Next Generation has a Bright Future

May 07, 2015

College students graduating from top schools are struggling to find professional jobs in the U.S. as history repeats itself- except this time it's the computers that are automating a large number of human job functions. I had the opportunity to see a private screening of Most Likely To Succeed at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, which is a thought-provoking documentary shown at the Sundance Festival. The film urges us to take a close look at our century-old education system and move it from the industrial age to the informational age.

Until now, computers were not intuitive, could not put various thoughts together in an intelligent fashion, and were unable to understand the nuances of languages. Today, Big Data, Internet of Things, and high processing power are making it all happen. Yet educators are still focused on teaching to the tests. The U.S. may quickly lose its edge if we don't change the model - what can we do to create new opportunities for our children?

The movie focuses on High Tech High School in San Diego, California, which completely redesigns the way children are taught. There are no tests, no textbooks, and no homework. The teachers do not have tenure, but if hired, they can teach any way they want. Lessons are fluid and can cross-over from one class to another. It is project-based learning, where kids must collaborate and manage their time effectively to be successful. The idea is to teach less content, but dive much deeper. This way, children are able to retain what they learned as well as learn life skills such as problem solving. The result? They gain independence and confidence.

While the movie only presents one such school, there are many schools across the country trying some aspects, if not all aspects of such an education model. My son is starting middle school next year and was selected in a lottery to enroll in such a program in Palo Alto, California. Still, the sample size of this type of education is too small to determine whether it will be successful. This creates much anxiety among parents and students who are testing new water.

Change is often difficult, but in this case, necessary.  The global economy is creating an urgent need for the U.S. to educate children in a way that allows it to remain a superpower. Don't be mistaken - we are excited about digital transformation and all that it has to offer.  However, whatever happens in the next decade with the revamping of our education system, one point is certain - the key to the future seems to be making sure our kids are creative in their thinking - surely that's an area where computers will not win!

Production companies: One Potato Productions
Starring: Scott Swaaley, Mike Strong, Mark Aguirre, Brian Delgado, Ken Jennings, Larry Rosenstock
Director: Greg Whiteley
Screenwriter: Greg Whiteley
Producers: Adam Leibowitz, Daria Lombroso, Adam Ridley, Greg Whiteley
Cinematographer: Gabriel Patay
Editors: Adam Ridley
Music: Josh Ethan Johnson, Matthew Lurie
Not rated, 86 minutes

Tags: IoT, IT, education

Alpa Shah


This May marks my 22th year with Frost & Sullivan. Being part of a fast-growing company and dynamic industry, an entrepreneurial culture, and a fun environment is invigorating and worth every moment. My professional and volunteer experience includes business and strategy planning, product and vertical market analysis, growth consulting, event planning and execution, sales and marketing, web design, and most importantly, creating and inspiring teams to be best in class. Consulting projects have ranged from strategy development to white papers to end user analyses. My focus now is to guide visionary CXOs and IT leaders through the next era of digital transformation with the help of a IT experts and analysts across all industries. Prior to joining Frost and Sullivan, I worked for Smith Barney for 5 years in its accounting division handling incentive compensation plans. In this position I was responsible, from an accounting and payroll perspective, for the capital accumulation and deferred compensation plans of top management and account executives. Thereafter, I worked as an account executive at Edward Jones, a brokerage company for approximately one year. In these positions, I learned much about the operations of a financial company, financial instruments, and sales techniques.

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