Dr. Tony Wagner, an internationally acclaimed author and education innovator, shared a thought-provoking message about the future of education with more than 350 education and community leaders today as the keynote speaker of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund’s EDTalks event.
Wagner, who currently serves as a Senior Research Fellow at the Learning Policy Institute, challenged the audience to rethink what skills students will need to succeed in a 21st century economy where creativity and collaboration will set them apart, rather than rote knowledge. He shared data from the consulting firm McKinsey that up to 45 percent of jobs will be automated in the future.
“We need to fundamentally reimagine education,” Wagner said, pointing to the prevalence of high-stakes testing as a significant part of the problem. “The longer kids are in school, the fewer questions they ask, and the more obsessed they are with getting the answer right.”
Instead, Dr. Wagner said, schools can focus on encouraging children’s inherent capacities for play, passion and purpose. These are the tenets of an education that will prepare them to thrive as critical thinkers in the innovation era. He suggested teachers encourage students to keep a journal of questions they have as they learn in school.
The event also celebrated JPEF’s 10th anniversary and served as the official launch of the School Leadership Initiative, JPEF’s new program to support principals in Title 1 elementary schools, which serve a large proportion of students in poverty.
“This spring, my former third-grade students from S.P. Livingston Elementary graduated high school, and many of them are on to great things in college and career thanks to the educators in their lives,” said JPEF President Rachael Tutwiler Fortune. “I know our investment and focus on those on the frontlines with our students in our schools has mattered and will matter for Duval County’s future.”
JPEF Vice Chair Kevin Hyde unveiled four Founders Fellowships to support Title 1 elementary school principals and honor some of JPEF’s founding leaders as part of the 10th anniversary: the Cindy Edelman Fellowship for Teacher Recruitment & Retention, the Brian J. Davis Fellowship for Climate & Culture, the John Delaney Fellowship for Family & Community Engagement and the Nina Waters Fellowship for Leadership & Management. Four Title I elementary school principals who have been selected as the inaugural fellows spoke about their challenges and how strategic investments can help their students achieve at the next level.
The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is an independent 501(c)(3) organization that believes in our diverse community’s collective power to ensure that every child walks into school with the same opportunity to succeed. We believe public schools in Duval County have made tremendous progress over the last ten years, but we cannot stop working until we close the opportunity gap for low-income students and students of color. We believe great people make great schools, so we invest in developing and equipping educators and parents with best practices in school quality.