February 25, 2015 psweeze

Preparing students for the new economy on #EastCoastEd

As an educator I often like to take a step back and look at the big picture by asking myself questions. One such question that has been on my mind lately is whether or not we are effectively preparing today’s students for an economy that is continually transforming. Last night’s #EastCoastEd conversation gave me a considerable amount of information to digest, and has encouraged me to evaluate what opportunities we provide our students.

I’ve been lucky enough to witness the value of the Entrepreneurship course when taught by a passionate teacher. In some cases this course serves as a catalyst for students to choose a different path. Finding relevance in the curriculum is often difficult for students, and many of them have a hard time seeing the world beyond the walls of their classrooms.

Nevertheless, there are more and more opportunities available to our students each year. Just this year CHAT to the Future hired an entrepreneurship mentor to facilitate social entrepreneurship projects throughout 7 high schools in New Brunswick. One of the partners for this project has been Enterprise Saint John, an agency that as facilitated a number of similar initiatives throughout the region. This agency has been a bridge for schools to connect with experts working in a multitude of domains, and having them as a partner is more important than ever.

As the landscape of today’s workforce transforms, we are observing just how powerful the influence of the knowledge age is. Just this past week, President Obama hired the Whitehouse’s very first Chief Data Scientist, DJ Patil. Although it may seem like there is an over abundance of articles about bringing coding into schools, there is a legitimate reason why we should start to listen to them.

We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done – Alan Turing


These words by Alan Turing are relevant even today, and remind us that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Enterprise Saint John has allowed our students to get a glimpse of the future by coordinating weekly coding clubs. These clubs have brought in industry experts from the field to teach and expose students to languages and products like python, javascript, Raspberry Pi, and Arduino’s through unique projects. Having been involved in the one at St. Malachy’s, I can tell you that the rewards are immeasurable.

Although there is a lot of work ahead of us, I am confident that we can get there. We just need to roll up our sleeves and get to work.


Also published on Medium.