A recent Wired cover story warned that robots may soon be stealing our jobs—that they are in fact already replacing us in many areas. Jimmy Fallon’s tongue-in-cheek contribution to the feature was optimistic: “Before we know it, we’re all going to be replaced by mechanical versions of ourselves. And a lot of people might find this scary—but not me. For one thing, do you have any idea how much free time I’m going to have?” A new book suggests ways in which the next generation of high school and college graduates can capitalize on said free time to stay one step ahead of the ‘bots.
Marty Neumeier has written a book aimed at those of us less sanguine than Jimmy about a robotic future. As anyone who’s read The World Is Flat knows, mechanical skills and routine tasks are the first jobs to be lost in any outsourcing process, while work requiring creativity and innovation remains valuable and more difficult to outsource. Many have framed the increasing automation of work as outsourcing to robots. Neumeier happens to think the future remains bright for today’s students, so long as they prepare appropriately for the work world to come. In an interview with Education Week opinion blogger Tom Vander Ark, he explains the thinking behind his new book, Metaskills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age (New Riders, 2012), and its implications for the K-12 world.
Neumeier’s five metaskills—Feeling, Seeing, Dreaming, Making, and Learning—are elements of social-emotional learning reworked to encourage creativity in schools and organizations alike. While Neumeier’s focus is on helping students develop college and career readiness, he appears to steer clear of objectives like global competitiveness and 21st-century skills development that emphasize achievement and assessment.
A version of this news article first appeared in the BookMarks blog.