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27. The Economic Machine

Video: IBM’s Centennial of Achievements

On September 13, 1931, The New York Times, founded in 1851, celebrated 80 years in business by challenging the day’s visionaries to look 80 years ahead and make predictions about 2011.

Making his statement to the publication just two years after the stock market crash, entrepreneur Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, had this to say:

“We shall go over our economic machine and redesign it, not for the purpose of making something different than what we have, but to make the present machine do what we have said it could do. After all, the only profit of life is life itself, and I believe that the coming eighty years will see us more successful in passing around the real profit of life. The newest thing in the world is the human being.”

Now 2011 is here and the work of shaping the next century is well underway. But how will the American education community, knowing that a transformation is underway that requires action, get started in a way that meets core curriculum goals and at the same time teaches relevant 21st century skills such as creative collaboration, critical thought and even programming?

Integrating technology into the learning environment isn’t just a matter of replacing books with electronic devices, or allowing passive participation in existing platforms but rather, as Clive Thompson noted recently in WIRED’s “We’re All Coders Now,” commencing with the process of educating “everyday people” to become coders capable of writing software and solving problems to create the future they imagine.

STEM education often completely overlooks the necessity to teach the difference between the Scientific Method and the Engineering Design Process a critical aspect of creating the future that can be collaboratively imagined in a way that meets society’s needs and leads to economic development.

What predictions do you have for the next century?

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