by: Dr. Richard Cash
With the changing landscape of the future workforce, our role as an educator must also change. The World Economic Forum states we are entering the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” This revolution is being signaled by drivers of change, such as artificial intelligence, smart technologies, and broader socio-economic, geopolitical and demographic developments. With the projections of more competition for jobs and the sophisticated skills that go along with those positions, our students must be equipped to compete.
The essential skills of the emerging workforce are critical reasoning, creative thinking, social adaptability, cultural awareness and sophisticated problem solving techniques; all dimensions of a self-regulated learner. In a differentiated classroom, the intent is to develop self-directed autonomous learners, who can make a positive impact on their community and the world. The way our students will stand out in the competition of the future workforce is for them to engage in the entrepreneurial spirit—to design, launch and manage new ideas/products/services and so on. There are three ways in which a differentiated classroom encourages self-regulated autonomous learners with an entrepreneurial spirit.
1. Developing the skills of an entrepreneur A differentiated classroom is designed to increase students’ level of motivation and engagement in content that has value to their future success. When teachers are skillful in aligning content through relevant connections to the students’ lives, they ensure students will attend to meaningful information. Problems that are worth solving through embedded content, give students causes to develop skills of critical reasoning, creative thinking, and effective problem solving. Entrepreneurs arise by finding problems, seeking out creative solutions solution by thinking critically. In a differentiated classroom, students work on varied authentic problems that have meaning and relevance to their future success. Collaboration and communication are vital skills developed through these activities
2. Developing the skills of a learner In the past, to learn meant to go to this place called “school.” This is no longer the case. With ready access to the Internet, students can acquire information anywhere and at any time. The exponential growth of YouTube, social media, Wikipedia, and other free resources gives kids an unlimited amount of information—some legitimate and some not legitimate. Therefore, our role in education has to transform, from teaching students what to think to how to think; from the sage on the stage to the guide on the side. A teacher who skillfully implements differentiation is aware of the learning process of each child. S/he then tailors instruction and activities to increase the levels of thinking and doing. To be a successful entrepreneur, one needs to identify credible sources, analyze various options, and anticipate the needs of the market. A differentiated classroom encourages these talents every day.
3. Developing the skills of self-regulation True success is achieved through effort, drive, and hard work. In this era of instant gratification, we must teach students how to persevere and persist at tasks. In the differentiated classroom, teachers build respectful tasks that encourage each student to be diligent. The essence of differentiating for students through respectful engaging tasks is to develop self-directed and self-regulated learning. To be an entrepreneur, you must be able to identify a need, figure out how to address that need and persist until your idea is successful. This is the measure of a differentiated classroom.
With the evolving criteria for successful applicants in the future workforce, our roles in the classroom must also evolve. The future will be driven by new ideas and unique solutions to complex problems—characteristics of the entrepreneurial spirit.
The hallmark of a well-differentiated classroom encourages learners to be self-regulated to take on challenges, create new ideas and add value to their community.