Here we are, one month into 2018. While each year we individually turn a page, it is sometimes hard to recognize the gradual evolution of society. We now have a large, young demographic increasingly assuming leadership roles, and a more diverse and open-minded population struggling to find its way amidst a political push for a more traditional social infrastructure. Social shifts are not rocket science; they are a pendulum swing that we have seen many times before.
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The generational pendulum is swinging
What makes it different now is that the Baby Boomers were a big generation, X’ers are small, and Millennials are the biggest with Gen Z on track to be even bigger. The big-small-big-small generational pattern is being disrupted. I believe that rather than the pendulum swinging back and forth with each generation as it has in the past, it will now start to swing a wider path.
This will lead to more extremes that are both positive and negative. Millennial idealism will push a multicultural and border-less vision that will generate increasing pushback from boomers. But the younger voice will prevail to a degree where optimism may actually overshadow wisdom and nostalgia. They may, in fact, organically defeat most social injustices. On the other hand, radical ideology in all forms may escalate in opposition. We could see an increase in terrorism and racial divides, both nationally and abroad.
Changes in technology and the job market are coming
Technology and Artificial Intelligence are going to have an increased presence in our lives in 2018. The traditional job market in the short and midterm will consequently shrink. Entrepreneurial opportunities will blossom for those broadminded enough to recognize them.
A shrinking job market will work against the current USP (unique selling proposition) of education — “College and Career Ready.” We must embrace the opportunity to find applications for newly available human capital. Let’s figure out how to effectively teach entrepreneurship and innovation, which I believe means embracing a liberal arts education.
Education’s responsibility in 2018 and beyond
The combination of all these forces gives education its greatest opportunity to positively impact the world. It must ramp up a proactive stance in 2018. Educators must prepare and empower students to create a more peaceful society. Particularly by teaching them data triangulation in order to eliminate the existence of destructive players like “fake news.” Students must be taught to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities and capitalize on them in order to make peace profitable. The only thing standing in the way of world peace is war profiteering.
The most visible shift we will see in education during 2018 and beyond is the domination of the millennial generation and the impact they will have. Millennials will increasingly become parents, school board members, administrators, policymakers, and teachers.
The current teacher shortage must also be sufficiently addressed in 2018. We cannot simply expect cash-strapped millennials who want to make a difference but are saddled with student debt to all of a sudden find fulfillment in education. Society continues to undervalue educators. We seem to have a national anti-intellectual movement that surely will not help make America great again. We have a loud voice in America that effectively screams, “If you take away our guns, you take away our freedom.” In 2018, I’d like to hear an even louder voice scream, “If you take away our public education, you take away our freedom.”
I believe in Millennials, and believe the increasing impact they will have on education and society will be positive overall. Their proclivity for entrepreneurship and desire to have a positive and meaningful impact on the world will yield great results. If the rest of us do one of two things: support their initiatives or simply get out of their way.
Happy New Year!
Millennials, AI & Education in 2018: Thoughts on the Future was originally published in Becoming Human: Artificial Intelligence Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.