To succeed in this time of change

Today all students are facing a rapidly changing job market that requires different skills and knowledge than what was required in the past fifty years. Many of the teaching methods designed in the late 19th century that we currently use are no longer feasible for this technology-driven economy. The traditional “rote memory” model is no longer work in this fast-changing environment. The focus on exams and degrees instead of knowledge and skills are obsolete. Our country’s future depends on how well our students are educated and prepared for the opportunities of this 21st-century job market.

In this connected world, anyone can clearly see the changes in both technology and economy as they are happening around us. Countries with advanced technology education are prosperous but countries without strong technical education or STEM are facing economic difficulty with high unemployment and a huge deficit. Of course, It is easy to talk about improving education but making it happens is difficult because there is a resistance to change among some education leaders. Many of them know about the need for changes, but they are afraid of what happens to them if they make a mistake. An educator told me that he feels like sitting in a burning house but many of his education leaders refuse to recognize it because the fire has not reached them. I asked him: “What happens if your education system remains the same? There will be more frustrated unemployed graduates with no future and what will they do? Nobody can predict what happens when these “educated people” get angry. There will be more parents who look at each passing year and afraid that their children will be left behind with no future. Nobody can predict what happens when these people get angry. There will be more frustrated teachers as they have to teach students on passing tests even knowing that is not what their students need. He shook his head: “I do not know, the future is bleak. But what do you suggest?”

I explained: “For students to succeed in this time of changes, their education must focus on three factors: Knowledge, Skills, and Lifelong learning. The Knowledge factor starts with the understanding of a career based on the technical education such as STEM education as well as the global competition. Students must know what they want to do, what type of knowledge they need, and what their interests are. The result is a career plan for each student BEFORE they go to college where they will learn certain subjects suitable for their educational goals. The skills factor are the application of their theories and knowledge that they have learned to solve problems where they also develop critical thinking, and soft-skills such as teamwork, Collaboration and responsibility. The Lifelong learning is about learning how to learn, the development of curiosity, initiative, adaptability, ethical behavior, and innovations. If students can acquire these three factors, they will do well because these are the key to succeed in this technology-driven economy or The fourth industrial revolution.”


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University