Uncommon Sense

August 19, 2020

Preparing Students for the Jobs of Tomorrow and Other Bogus Marketing Claims

Filed under: Education — Steve Ruis @ 9:27 am
Tags: , ,

On Quora I got the following question directed my way and I thought to share it and my answer with you to see if you agree. Here’s the question:

Some people say: “Schools are not teaching students the skills they need for their future.” Do you agree?

Schools have never taught what students needed for the future. They have always been designed to teach what was needed for the recent past.

The reason for this is not some conspiracy of teachers’ unions or other nonsense. The reason for this is we are absolutely and pathetically awful at anticipating the skills needed for “the future.”

Think about the impact that personal computers have made upon our lives, everything from desktop computers to smartphones. Who predicted that happening? Who knew with any certainty that that would happen? The answer is “nobody.”

So, an education is designed to do just a few things. To transfer a few practical skills (although we do less and less of this, high schools used to teach woodworking, metal working, automotive mechanics, typing/keyboarding, etc.; some community colleges still do), teach people how to think (not what how), and teach people how to work together.

From that skill set, people are prepared to adapt to the future as it unrolls.

Anyone who claims to “prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow” is delivering a marketing message that has nothing to do with reality, as no one actually knows how to do this … no one!




  1. Reminds me of something Terry Pratchett wrote:(paraphrase) Her parents spent all that money sending her to school and all she got was an education.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Arkenaten — August 19, 2020 @ 10:34 am | Reply

    • :o)

      On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 10:34 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 19, 2020 @ 11:07 am | Reply

  2. Well I can’t disagree 🙂

    But I hope solar/wind are the jobs of tomorrow.

    …or fighting in the next American revolution will be the next job of tomorrow, if the orange idiot manages to cheat another win.

    If the revolution needs me, call!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by shelldigger — August 19, 2020 @ 12:05 pm | Reply

    • I ran into a student who I knew had completed a BS degree at a nearby campus of the University of California. In chatting I found out that he was working as a solar system installer. And, foolish me, I say it was too bad he couldn’t take advantage of his education and he responded that “Oh no, I use my education every day.” Part of being a teacher is being humbled by one’s students.

      The federal government does job surveys and puts out lists of occupations that will be in demand. I wonder what the last list pre-COVID-19 was.

      On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 12:05 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 19, 2020 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

  3. You have a good point there. It made me think back on my life and my experiences were similar. Any classes that attempted to teach me a specific job related skill were pretty much useless. In the early 80s I was a self taught computer programmer. I went back to college to take computer science. They started us out on COBOL using IBM keypunch machines to make punch cards to feed into an NCR mainframe that was already 20 years out of date while at home I was writing custom databases in Pascal and billing systems for private water utilities. Most of the instructors had come straight out of the 1960s mainframe era. I was either self taught or taught by someone already in the job in almost every work related situation I was in.

    The problem is that being up to date, to say nothing of cutting edge, takes money. A lot of money. A school has to be committed to on-going equipment upgrades, faculty training, etc. That is expensive so they limp along with ten year old equipment and outdated curriculums

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — August 19, 2020 @ 10:44 pm | Reply

    • The problem colleges face, in hot fields … as computers were for a while … you can make way more money doing it than teaching it. Consequently teachers are hard to find and computers are, never quite up to date.

      I too, learned on teletypes, punch cards, even punched tapes. I learned Basic first and then, well, it wasn’t my field. I did brag, however, about reading an entire 1100-page book on DOS (what a kludge).

      Once again, we seem to be about the same age. Codgers of the world, Unite!

      On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 10:44 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 20, 2020 @ 11:06 am | Reply

      • I started out with Basic as well, and despite all of the bad press concerning it, it really wasn’t a bad language. It had some problems, yes, but so do all computer languages. I eventually picked up Cobol, RPG, Forth, Pascal, C, assembly language and a couple of others. Calling DOS a kludge is actually being rather kind. Dear lord, that thing was a mess! A lot of days that it worked at all was a miracle. There were much better operating systems out there, even back then. The only reason DOS ever caught on was because IBM cut a deal with Gates and adopted it for their PCs.

        As for age, I’ll be hitting 67 next month. Don’t feel that old. I’m in better shape now mentally and physically than I was when I was in my forties. Oh well.


        Comment by grouchyfarmer — August 20, 2020 @ 12:24 pm | Reply

        • Well, IBM cut a deal with Gates but Gates didn’t have an OS, so he found DOS and bought it. We would have been better off with any of the alternatives then available.

          Okay, so I went overboard as to us both being old codgers. In October I will be 74.

          And, do you remember the first hard drive you saw? Mine was the size of a large shoe box and was a whopping 5 mB.

          I also remember my mom showing me the pride of their office (she worked at Stanford Research Institute). The machine was about three and a half feet high, three feet wide and fifteen feet long and it was hooked up to a teletype. It would go through an inputted document and retype it, asking about every third line where to hyphenate a word and then would retype the letter or document both right and left justified. That is what it did. I now lay out books and magazines and I was there … at the ground floor of the computer revolution … sheesh.

          On Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 12:24 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 20, 2020 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

          • I do indeed remember those first PC hard drives. I used to sell ’em. While I was taking CS classes I also worked for a business supply company and we branched out into small business computer systems as well. I don’t remember the brand. Shugart? Anyway one of those puppies would set you back about $6,000. Only sold two systems with HDs, one to a trucking company and another to the chamber of commerce that was going to use it for handling mailing lists. I think the cost for both systems was well over $10K in 1984-85. Both were CP/M based systems. Expensive but a heck of a lot easier to work with than shuffling floppy disks around all day long. I think I have a couple floating around in the basement that went along with Radio Shack’s business systems the TRS-80 Model II and that big beast of a Xenix system they sold back then.


            Comment by grouchyfarmer — August 20, 2020 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

            • I have gotten rid of all of my old hardware as I live in a condo now and space is at a premium, but I still have my copy of Windows 1.0. It did absolutely nothing and had no software that would work with it. Who would have put money down then that it would be worth what it is now?

              On Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 10:36 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


              Liked by 1 person

              Comment by Steve Ruis — August 21, 2020 @ 7:49 am | Reply

              • oh dear lord, those early versions of Windows were horrible! They were little more than a graphics shell running on top of DOS that sucked up huge amounts of scarce system resources. I have a sealed copy of Windows 3 laying around somewhere that I never installed on 3 1/2 inch disks. Think I have a version of OS/2 kicking around somewhere too. One of these days I need to start cleaning up down there and just trashing a lot of that stuff.


                Comment by grouchyfarmer — August 21, 2020 @ 12:27 pm | Reply

                • Museums may want those copies if they are good. I wish I had a nickel for every problem I have had with Windows. I’d be richer than Bill Gates.

                  On Fri, Aug 21, 2020 at 12:27 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



                  Comment by Steve Ruis — August 27, 2020 @ 12:54 pm | Reply

  4. Hello Steve. Public education has been under attack for generations. An uneducated electorate is much easier to control. Also many employers want uneducated workers forced to accept bad working conditions and low pay. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Scottie — August 20, 2020 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

    • Hi, Scottie! I agree 100%. I posted this because I don’t think public schools should be accused of not preparing students for tomorrow. Schools have even fallen for the nonsense (hence the folders/slides along with the post. If this sounded as if I was criticizing schools I was not, just setting the record straight.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 20, 2020 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

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