The next greatest generation

graduate with an American Flag overlay

Think back to society ten, fifteen…twenty years ago. What was your life like? What were your hopes and fears? How did you engage with the world around you?

Just as the Greatest Generation, born in the 1900s-1920s, experienced economic turmoil, rising civic and community engagement, and the acceleration of new technologies (radio and telephone), today’s students are developing in a time of rapid global transformation.

Schools today must be ready to meet the pace of industry to prepare students for jobs that do not even exist. We no longer ask students what they want to be when they grow up, but what problem they want to solve in the world.

“I truly believe that we are seeing the greatest generation coming of age,” shared Frannie Matthews, President and CEO of the Colorado Technology Association. “As these digital natives come into positions of leadership for our world, they will be faced with enormous challenges and also supported by amazing technological advances.”

One significant shift from the education model of the early 20th century is that rigorous learning no longer just emphasizes memorization and recitation, but fosters skills that students will need to be successful in the new era. Students today are learning how to continuously learn and iterate, problem solve, communicate, and advance innovative design and grow new ideas.

“Past generations have had to adapt to technology integrating with society, but for PK-12 students, it’s as normal as walking to the bus,” shared Paige Massey, a sophomore at Silver Creek High School and a member of the Innovation Center’s Artificial Intelligence Leadership Team. “Opportunities offered across St. Vrain Valley Schools do an exceptional job of preparing students for careers, postsecondary education, and daily life. Classes offered in school and an abundance of clubs will help students gain an edge when entering new and exponentially growing fields.”

Our nation’s unwavering focus on innovation and the advancement of society has served to build the United States’ economy into one of the strongest in the world. From the introduction of steam power and mechanical production in the First Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century, to the Second Industrial Revolution’s establishment of the assembly line in the late 19th century, and then the rise of computers in the Third Industrial Revolution of the late 20th century, embracing technological change are values as American as apple pie, Monday Night Football, and Bruce Springsteen.

Artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced manufacturing, automation, data integration, cybersecurity, and creative innovation will be central to success as the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution drives exponential change to the way we live and experience the world. In describing this new era, the World Economic Forum predicts disruption to every industry in every country, heralding the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.

“We are seeing rapid acceleration of change at a pace we have never experienced before,” said Don Haddad, Ed.D., superintendent of St. Vrain Valley Schools. “With approximately 90 percent of our nation’s children attending a public school, we in St. Vrain believe public education is a catalyst to our nation’s economy, local and national security, the quality of our service industry, the value of homes, workforce development, and the protection of our democracy. It is essential that our systems are giving our students – and our society – a strong competitive advantage to foster success in a complex, globalized world.”

In today’s classrooms, access to advanced technologies takes students beyond space and time to accelerate their learning and connection to the globe around them. St. Vrain Valley Schools has strategically focused on the development and implementation of programming that will propel students forward as they graduate and become engaged citizens and thought leaders who will champion a stronger future for all.

“It has been a privilege to see St. Vrain students in action – they are engaged and inquisitive. The experience-based learning that I’ve witnessed in St. Vrain is setting students up for success,” added Matthews. “I see a generation of purpose-driven leaders who leverage their resources to work efficiently to find creative solutions to enormous challenges.”

When we look ahead to our world ten, fifteen…twenty years from now, it is hard to imagine how our lives will be transformed by the innovative ideas taking shape in today’s classrooms. As we prepare for what is coming next, our students represent the next Greatest Generation that will shape our future and inspire a new vision of wonder and possibility for generations ahead.