Jason Siko, writing about public education in The Futurist magazine, predicts that as students progress, they will be “allowed to specialize earlier and earlier (much like athletics today)—so much so that no one has a generalized diploma, only certificates of competencies in skills that the workforce demands.”
Do I want my grandchildren to get an education dedicated exclusively to employer-driven, transitory competencies? No.
Do I want them locked early into professional categories from which they cannot escape even if their interests, ambitions, or financial needs change? No.
I think the primary function of education is to produce citizens with functional skills (reading, math, computer literacy, critical thinking, cogent writing, problem solving) as well as a grasp of history and philosophy and an appreciation for the arts. I do not think we should look at public secondary education as some sort of vocational training writ large. It’s bad enough that a college degree has to have some sort of vocational aspect to justify its burdensome cost.
Somehow, we have to create public schools that provide both a traditional curriculum and the training in the skills needed to perform in a complex, global economy.