An Independent School • Grades 5-12
Re-envisioning education in a time of unprecedented change
Re-envisioning education in a time of unprecedented change

by Bernie Noe, head of school

According to the January 2017 McKinsey Global Institute report, "Harnessing Automation for a Future that Works," half the jobs that currently exist in the United States will be automated by 2055, and this could happen as early as 2035, depending on the speed of technological breakthroughs and other variables. The combination of advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, deep learning, and general intelligence will lead to what many are now calling the fourth industrial revolution. This is possibly the greatest change in the workplace since the first industrial revolution in the late 1700s and early 1800s, when millions left their farms to move to the new industrial centers.

There is little doubt that current Lakeside students will enter the workforce at a time of great disruption and change. As we recently shared in Lakeside magazine, we have started a re-envisioning process to review and research the skills and habits of mind we are teaching and want to teach our students, to best prepare them for the world they will find upon graduation. From the work we have done thus far, we already know that some of those skills and habits of mind will be those that have always been important: hard work, resilience, good communications skills, and a sound ethical foundation. We also know that we will add new skills, such as working effectively with artificial intelligence, as well as recognizing when and where your cognitive ability is enhanced by machine learning and when it is not. It is also clear that some skills and habits will no longer be as relevant or will be much lower priorities, and we will have to let go of these.

All our re-envisioning decisions will be tied to Lakeside's mission, and we will maintain our focus on academic excellence, diversity and inclusion, and global citizenship. We are in no way changing the mission of the school.

To think through how we can best organize and direct the re-envisioning process, we are working with Lake Partners, a strategy consulting firm founded by Joe Barer, Class of 1987 and a Lakeside parent. Lake Partners has done amazing work for us in the past, including an alumni study in 2009 and most recently helping us think through the launching of The Downtown School. Our partnership is already exciting and fruitful.

To begin to think about which skills and habits are now and will be important for our students, we opened the school year with faculty, staff, and a representative group of students hearing from educational expert Tony Wagner on future-oriented skills. We then gathered in teams to design hypothetical ideal schools. On Nov. 27, teams of faculty and interested staff traveled to 23 places of work in the Seattle metro area to learn about the skills and habits of mind important to various kinds of businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits. Between January and March, we will bring numerous speakers to the school to talk about skills and habits of mind for the future. And, of course, we are also doing a lot of reading and studying.

We also have set up, or are setting up, committees to look at all aspects of life at school and what might change. Each committee is focusing on one aspect of the re-envisioning work, including the following:

  • Calendar. Depending on the changes we decide on, we may make significant changes to the school calendar. We are in the idea stage, looking at how our students might do internships, have longer Global Service Learning (GSL) and outdoor experiences during the school year, or engage in project weeks, mini-semesters, independent studies, and so on. All would necessitate significant calendar and schedule changes.
  • Internships. We are looking at how we might have an internship program in the Upper School.
  • Project weeks, experiential programs. We are looking at how we might offer students the opportunity during the school year to pursue a field of interest they are passionate about, study a subject in-depth, or participate in a GSL or outdoor experience.
  • Skills and habits of mind. A steering committee is recording all the skills and habits of mind we learn of for future discussion with the faculty and representatives from our other constituent groups.

At a professional development day in August 2019, each committee will report out to the faculty, staff, and representatives from the student body, Board of Trustees, alumni, and parents and guardians. We will select representatives from each of these constituent groups in the coming months, and they will join faculty and staff for the first time at our April 2019 professional development day.

As you can see, a lot of learning and exploration is underway now and will continue over the next year or so. By December 2019 we should have a pretty clear idea of the changes we want to make. We will begin to implement the changes the following year, launching initial changes in the 2020-2021 school year. We will keep everyone regularly informed of our progress.

This will be important, interesting, and exciting work for all of us to contribute to over the next several years. And this re-envisioning will enable us to continue to offer our students an education that prepares them for the world of the future.

Thanks, everyone, for reading.

Have a great winter! Remember, the days are now getting longer.

Bernie

Bernie Noe is Lakeside's head of school. You can reach him at Head'sOffice@lakesideschool.org and 206-440-2714.