An Independent School • Grades 5-12
From the Tatler: Is Lakeside supporting our futures?
From the Tatler: Is Lakeside supporting our futures?

By NhiVan T. '21 and Mia V. '21

For more information on Lakeside's re-envisioning, see Bernie Noe's recent announcement and Anya S. '21's Tatler article

Lakeside, since its opening in 1919, has been acknowledged for its high rigor and success in preparing its students for their futures. Students head into college and beyond equipped with the best tools that any high school can offer. Yet, now that we have entered the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution (the Digital Revolution), it is time for the administration and the teachers at Lakeside to stop and reevaluate whether or not they are best preparing us for what lies ahead. 

With automation and AI becoming increasingly relevant and capable of skillfully carrying out human tasks, the job market in the future will look wholly different than it does now. According to the management consulting company Mckinsey & Company, by 2030, there will be much different demands in the job market. For instance, in about 12 years Building (i.e. architects, building engineers, and construction workers) and Care Provider jobs (i.e. doctors, nurses, social workers, and health aides) will increase by about 30-35% in the U.S., while jobs under the title Office support (i.e. IT workers, administrative assistance, and Office support workers) and Predictable physical work (i.e. installation and repair workers, general mechanics, and machine operators) will decrease by 20-30%. Based on these projected percentages, that is about 977,100 jobs that are either being created or lost. By 2030, the majority of Lakesiders currently in school will be in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties, so these changes will directly affect our daily lives and opportunities.

To assess what skills will be needed in this future, the administrators and teachers from Lakeside traveled to different jobs and companies on the last day of Thanksgiving break and spent the day learning what skills companies look for in their future employees. These included Microsoft and the construction company Lease Crutcher Lewis. Although the two are seemingly completely differently run companies, the three teachers and administrators who were interviewed--Mr. Noe, Dr. Bensadon, and Mr. McKinley--mentioned the term "soft skills." Mr. Noe refers to this as the "ability to read body language, to get along with people who you don't really enjoy, [and] to work well in a team. That's what everyone's going to need to know how to do. I mean, because in a world of artificial intelligence, like everything else gets done by computers, but that's what computers can't do." Mr. McKinley notices that "in the workforce now, especially in places like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, there's a lot of working in groups of people trying to get more ideas and different perspectives. So students who come out of here, knowing how to work really well with other people have a huge advantage." 

In addition to soft skills, Dr. Bensadon also noticed that a strong work ethic was lacking in many of the potential employees at Lease Crutcher Lewis. She attributes this to start-up culture, where many young people are expecting to be put in higher positions in the company, when they have yet to prove themselves: "And so that's something that {Lease Crutcher Lewis is] finding that they think needs to be a little reigned in, like, we love your creativity, we love your innovation, we love your ambition. But you've got to start with the box, make the box first, and then you can work your way up." New employees must be able to put in the effort now to be awarded positions of leadership later. Not only that, but employees must be able to produce the work, not just effort. Another thing Dr. Bensadon believes is essential is the importance of resilience. At Lakeside, she finds that this is taught when students are required to do test and quiz corrections.

After visiting different companies, teachers and administrators came together to discuss their own ideas of an "ideal school" in relation to skills required for jobs in the future. This idea was addressed both from an academic and inclusive perspective. Academically, Mr. McKinley mentioned implementing more projects into the curriculum to promote risk taking: "For an ideal school I'd want to see a lot of collaborative group central [activites], students working together really well, I want to see us pushing students to take risks in their work and not worry about if they make mistakes." On the topic of inclusivity, Mr. McKinley stated, "I really want to see a school where every single student feels like this is their school, they can bring their full self to school and not have to hide part of their identity from others because they're worried that people are going to tease them or whatever." Considering the rise of AI, promoting open-minded, risk taking, and collaborative behavior is necessary, as these are skills that computers are unable to learn.

Mr. Noe mentioned the administration is considering many curriculum changes to incorporate different skills: "We're looking at, should we have internships for juniors? And should we have semester courses in the middle of the year? Like, having a three week period in the middle of the year where if you wanted to take calculus intensely, four hours a day, you could do that." These would help students dive into topics that they are passionate about -- and introduce them into a more work-like setting where one topic or one problem is addressed for a longer period of time. Though, while the administration is looking into several changes, they aren't aiming for a total upheaval of the system. "One of the students said, 'I learned my best problem solving in sculpture class, you know, where I had to figure out how to do this thing, and it had real world applications right away if I didn't get it right.' Perfect, you know. So that wouldn't change." Thus, any major shifts in the curriculum will address both skills that are necessary in the general workforce and will allow students to focus on a certain area of their interest.

Mr. Noe mentioned that the exact outline of these changes is still uncertain: "If 10 is a finished product, we're at like a two right now. You know, we're just getting underway with thinking about it all." However, these changes could impact Lakeside students in the near future--they are set to be implemented during the 2020-2021 school year. The extent of the changes being implemented within a couple of years is unclear; however, it is transparent that these fundamental changes will set in motion the creation of the ideal school at Lakeside -- one that will be coming very soon.

For more information on Lakeside's re-envisioning, see Bernie Noe's recent announcement