Michael Meechin, Florida state director for the National Center on Education and the Economy, said that today’s schools are not preparing students for the future.

Jan 29 2024

FETC 2024: Are Today’s Schools Creating Future-Ready Students?

A former principal says that educators must support teachers to build better learning environments.

Despite the pandemic forcing more K–12 schools into some form of technology innovation, the American educational model has not seen massive shifts in recent years. That needs to change if today’s students are to become future ready, said Michael Meechin, Florida state director at the National Center on Education and the Economy.

A former principal who won awards for his work, Meechin encouraged attendees at the National Future of Education Technology Conference at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., to rethink their overall approaches to education. “The reality is that our current system has its roots in the turn of the century, just the wrong turn of the century: the 20th century,” he said.

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He explained that the model is outdated and out of step with a world that has changed dramatically.

Meechin worries that today’s older teaching models are “preparing kids for a factory model of living, when the factory model stuff is being done by autonomous robots.”

For Meechin, that style of teaching and learning doesn’t hold up to the complex world we live in today. It doesn’t align with the critical thinking skills that graduates will need. “The system is not working for what is going to be required of our kids,” he said.

LEARN MORE: These schools are using immersive technology to introduce students to future careers.

Get the Purpose Behind Learning

Meechin added that to really prepare students for the future, educators will need to start with a very basic question: What is the purpose of school?

Attendee responses were varied: preparing students to be contributing members of society, passing tests and adapting to constant change.

He then shared the results from a 2022 survey, which found developing practical skills and thinking critically were among the top five public priorities for the modern education system.

“Think about these skill sets and what you could potentially build within a curriculum,” Meechin said. “That’s exciting stuff. We have to be intentional about how we make that right, where we are going and the purpose of school for the 21st century.” Which is not teaching students how to pass a test.

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Professional Development and Assessments Drives Excellence

Meechin said modernizing education is not about going one-to-one.

“Putting devices in classrooms does not make you innovative,” he said. “Especially when the devices in their pockets are often more powerful.”

DISCOVER: Hyperconnected schools expand learning opportunities.

Meechin shared that a study of students in grades six through 12 found that improved learning conditions — especially those supporting teachers — can improve learning outcomes.

“As a leader, the data was a good reminder for me that it is a 180-day battle to support our teachers, to continue to build up their learning conditions and make sure they have what they need to support the kids in their classrooms,” he said.

He added that schools should rethink how they design assessments and align them to the knowledge and skills needed for future readiness.

“If we build those skills, kids are going to pass any tests that you throw their way,” he said. “We can build complex problem-solvers and critical thinkers that can handle multiple choice or any other assessments that are thrown their way.”

Don’t miss a moment of FETC event coverage. Keep this page bookmarked and follow @EdTech_K12 on X (formerly Twitter) for live updates and looks behind the scenes.

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