Message From The Superintendent
“The question to ask is not whether you are a success or a failure, but whether you are a learner or non-learner.” ~Benjamin Barber, Political writer and theorist
Preparing for the Future
Today’s sixth graders will reach their prime working year in 2030. The future is uncertain, but it is certain that technology, automation, artificial intelligence, and an expanding global economy will continue to emerge. Our students will be impacted on the evolving nature of work. What skills will our students need to be successful? Will current jobs still exist in 2030? What technology related knowledge, such as coding will be critical to be gainfully employed. How should schools prepare children to be involved in political, moral, and civic debates related to technology driven changes? What roles will career and technical education, internships, and life-long learning play?
In 2013, Oxford University researchers published a report estimating that almost half of jobs in America will be at risk of automation during the next two decades. For example, retail salespersons is now the most common occupation, but it is 90% likely of becoming automated according to one influential analysis. Another analysis by the McKinsey Global Institute reports that existing technologies could be utilized to automate approximately half of all activities including routine physical motions, collecting and processing data, and operating equipment in predictable environments.
New Set of Skills
If these predictions even partially become reality, our students will need different types of knowledge and skills no matter what field they enter. Our staff and Technology Integration Advisory Committee five years ago developed goals and indicators in the following areas: Curricular Content (knowledge), Communication and Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, and Creativity and Innovations. This year Digital Citizenship (Using technology safely and responsibly) has been added as another area. These areas are used to shape curriculum, focus teaching activities, utilize flexible furniture, and integrate technology.
For educators the most challenging factor about this uncertain future is most exciting. We have the opportunity to help prepare students to shape the future.
Failure as an Ingredient for Learning
Learning involves failure which is a necessary component of significant achievement. Our society fosters the notion that it is not acceptable to fail. Think how often we tend to measure a person’s sense of worth by his or her success. Success usually encompasses some level of failure. For instance, baseball illustrates the concept of failure very well. Teams and fans clamor to have productive hitters whose batting average is .300. What this means is that the players successfully hit the ball productively just 30 percent of the time... and failed to hit the ball productively 70 percent of the time. Another aspect of baseball is committing errors which is considered to be just a part of the game.
As educators we must teach our students that failure is part of the process to learning, and it is acceptable as long as the progression toward achieving the goal moves forward. The concept of “growth mindset” is prevalent in our classroom so students have the desire to stretch themselves and stick to it, even when facing challenges. These behaviors are the hallmark of the growth mindset. Carol Dweck emphasizes that “… our studies show that teaching people to have growth mindset, which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, helps make them high achievers in school and in life.”
Use of Referendum Funds Update
The bids have come in under cost estimates for the following projects: (1) Upgrade the middle school science labs, (2) convert the elementary school cafeteria meeting area (3) improve the elementary school’s front access and security, and (4) repair/replace roofs and windows at both schools. In February the paving bid for both schools will be awarded. These projects will be completed during the 2018 summer.
Strong Schools, Strong Community, Strong Future
Another indication of strong schools is to have a healthy work culture. It is an honor that our district was selected as a Top Workplace in the Chicago area. More details about the award are explained in another article in the Winter 2018 district newsletter. This distinction reflects the “family” atmosphere that thrives in our schools which also will attract prospective candidates to become part of the Benjamin School District 25 family. Strong community support is a significant factor that contributes our outstanding school climate.
Philip M. Ehrhardt, Ed.D.
Superintendent, FOIA Officer
Benjamin School District 25
District Support Staff - Accounting/Payroll
Clark, Dr. Shelley
District Support Staff - Secretary
Special Education/Intervention Consultant
Tech Info Coordinator
District Support Staff - Administrative Assistant/Board Recorder, FOIA Officer