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In an article recently published on Getting Smart, Roger Stark and Betsy Hill discuss the skills needed for the cognitive age and how to build brains that learn better.

In these days of brain science, many long-standing assumptions about education are being called into question. The model of education that arose to address the industrial age has been asked to prepare students for the “ages” that have come in quick succession – the “information age,” the “technology revolution,” and whatever will come next.

The fact of the matter is that we don’t know for sure what comes next, which is why David Brooks, in an Op-Ed in The New York Times, calls our current era The Cognitive Age. He begins by explaining that the primary force transforming our economy is not globalization, as many have claimed. Instead…

“It’s the skills revolution. We’re moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information…

The globalization paradigm emphasizes the fact that information can now travel 15,000 miles in an instant. But the most important part of information’s journey is the last few inches – the space between a person’s eyes or ears and the various regions of the brain. Does the individual have the capacity to understand the information? Does he or she have the training to exploit it?”

In other words, if we don’t know what the jobs of the future will be, the role of education has to change from preparing students for a knowable future to preparing them for an unknowable future in which they will have to continually learn and adapt.

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