5 Ways to Prep My 10-Year-Old for the Future

This month, I’m the proud papa of a funny, motivated, and athletic 10-year-old young man. Happy birthday, bud.

As I think about his next 10 years, I’m excited. And a little concerned.  Like any dad, I’m trying my best to prepare him for the realities he will face shortly – particularly the impending “new normal” of work.

Make no mistake about it. These next 10 years will be like no other.  Consider this:

  1. Change is changing. Accelerating. The amount of knowledge produced in the world is doubling every 12 days. And in a few years, it’ll be every 12 hours.  It’s not just that the world is changing, the fundamental nature and pace of change is changing.  It’s become parabolic, not linear because machines are learning how to learn. Artificial intelligence will be integrated into our lives. I’m coming around to this idea: we will buy as much IQ in our surrounding machines/devices as we like. Anything that has a plug will also have a brain.
  2. Routine work will be automated.  The routine, manual jobs of the future will belong to robots – that’s already obvious. Just last month in Greece, I ordered a Big Mac off a touch-screen. But consider this: robots will do the routine, thinking jobs, also. Experienced doctors get a intuitive sense of what’s going on with a patient, largely through thousands of interactions and then seeing the result. Imagine a computer reviewing the trillions of patient visit charts in the US over the last 10 years to “learn” how to diagnose disease and order the right tests to find out. Imagine an architect submitting her blueprint to a computer that’s processed 10 million similar blueprints to identify tweaks and improvements.
  3. The M-shaped society has arrived.  As “middle class” jobs disappear forever, we’ll see a small, growing upper-class and a larger, disenchanted lower class. Regardless of your political ilk, it can’t be ignored that this is a tremendously destabilizing trend.

These trends don’t change my core parenting strategy – my son needs to know that I love and support him no matter what.  I hope to instill in him the value of respect, hard work, curiosity, humor, forgiveness, and generosity.

However, regardless of what my son hopes to do in the future, these trends force me to be more intentional and clear about these 5 things.

  1. Good questions over great answers. Instead of giving him directives or answering his questions, I’m trying to answer his questions with better questions. One great question can be better than a 1,000 answers. Because it makes him think.
  2. Problem-solving over knowledge acquisition.  Instead of focusing on knowledge acquisition, I’m giving him room to solve interesting problems. It takes perseverance, grit, and the ability to look at a problem from a lot of different angles. When he solves it, he realizes that he did it – not because he’s smart. But because he kept at it. Over time, I’m hoping he’ll go from, “I don’t know, so I give up” to “I don’t know, so I’ll figure it out.” I think that if the problem involves building stuff, that’s an extra bonus. Extra-extra bonus if it involves hardware and software.
  3. Story-telling over fact-spouting. The future will be owned by great stories and the tellers behind them. Whatever the medium – visual, verbal, written, and video – storytellers will inspire, motivate, and educate.

    Those who tell the stories rule the world – Plato

  4. Team over individual. Individual work will still be instrumental, but those individuals will have to interface, resolve conflict, and collaborate with others more than ever. The world’s problems are getting more complicated. The world’s best solutions are not within us, but among us.
  5. Learning to learn better over just learning.  One of the core skills for the future is the ability to learn. Not just facts, but skills.  More importantly, it’s about instilling a humility and natural curiosity about the world around him.

“Dad, I’m no longer single digits!” Time is flying by, bud, welcome to your crazy world.

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