Creativity is key to economic future
By Bernie Noe, head of school
I am sure that a number of you have been reading the many recent articles and books written about the rise of the new global economy and the role of the “creative class” in that economy. Personally, I am fascinated with the changes now taking place in the world and believe that they will have major implications for our graduates.
I agree with those who conclude that the globe’s economy, like it or not, has changed permanently. As Thomas Friedman points out in his new book, That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back, all jobs that can be digitized will be digitized and all labor that can be moved will be transferred to the cheapest possible labor markets. These two fundamental shifts alone will have dramatic effects both on highly skilled professions and on less-skilled positions, and our students had better know the implications of these changes for any field they are choosing. Friedman concludes that any repetitive task, regardless of how highly skilled, is threatened with being moved.
Without being unduly pessimistic, I also agree with those who believe that the economic boom of the last 20 years is unlikely to be repeated any time soon. It will take some time to overcome the lag of the housing bust and there are no new economic drivers on the horizon to power growth. And this is not even to mention the many difficulties of the euro zone!
Finally, I agree with the assertion of many that the future belongs to the creative group in every society: the people who are innovative, who are continuously looking for ways to improve on the job they are doing, and who are willing to learn and grow continually. These creative individuals will thrive in traditional occupations because they will change and improve them and they will lead the way in creating new jobs for themselves and for others. In Friedman’s view, the future belongs to the creative group.
The good news for Lakeside students is that they are developing the critical thinking skills, the confidence, and the lifelong love of learning that will enable them to thrive in the new global economy. In class they are learning to work collaboratively with others in problem-solving exercises and are learning to know what to do when they do not know what to do. Teaching is changing to accommodate the dynamics of a world saturated with information, with students now learning information at home and analyzing that information, together with classmates, in class.
At Lakeside, students’ confidence is built in all settings: in the classroom, in the theater, on the athletic fields, in the out-of-doors, and on Global Service Learning trips. Our students need to avail themselves of all of these experiences if they are to get the most from their Lakeside education and to build the confidence they will need in this rapidly changing world.
Most fortunately, the ethos of Lakeside School is a love of learning. Most schools say that this is true of their schools, but it is for sure the case at Lakeside. Both adults and students just love the material they are studying (most of the time; this is not utopia) and I have no doubt whatsoever that our students will continue to learn and grow throughout their lives.
My only significant caveat to all of this is that Lakeside students do have to put themselves out there and take some risks to gain the most possible from their Lakeside education. If students avoid challenging experiences, their growth will be limited and they will not graduate having developed as fully as they might have had they pushed themselves. We as adults know that our greatest growth and joy have come from taking on significant challenges, even the ones that did not work out.
So, despite the dramatic economic changes of the past three years, I am most optimistic about what the future holds for Lakeside students and believe that they are, by and large, leaving this school with a foundation that prepares them for the world they will find. They are prepared to lead and to thrive in this new era.
Have a great winter, everyone. I will see you at games, performances, and so on!