Flipping Burgers & Future-Proofing

Growing up as a student in the public school system in the 90s, there are a couple of stand-out quotes that I heard repeatedly used in the classroom, time and time again…

  1. “You’re not always going to have a calculator in your pocket.”

Ha! If they could see me now. Shouting at some girl named Alexa in the kitchen, getting her to help me convert tablespoons to cups. All of this while my hands are covered in tahini and olive oil. It’s 2018, and not only do we all have calculators in our pockets, we have personal assistants!

  1. “If you don’t do ___________ you’ll be flipping burgers for the rest of your life”.

This one is a classic…and is still a common teacher threat. We all know that every good teacher has a few up his/her sleeve. During my time as a K-12 student, if you were a classroom slacker, flipping burgers seemed like the only logical career choice…At least that’s what your teachers assumed. And I’m sure, some of my middle and high school peers did, indeed, choose that career path (or it was chosen for them). 

Unfortunately (or fortunately), however you see your glass, flipping burgers will soon not even be an option for those individuals interested in that line of work. (Cue the sad music for readers reminiscing about their first high school jobs.) Here’s the thing, all things automation and artificial intelligence are quickly taking over these low-skilled and repetitive type jobs. And don’t be quick to doubt the quality of these advances. Robots can do some pretty RAD stuff that humans would struggle to do…or refuse to do.

For instance, take the San Francisco-based restaurant, Creator. They built a “burger-bot” that can patty, season, and grill beef, slice fresh tomatoes and cheese, and deliver a supreme product. From their website…”We can literally align the beef to your bite, giving the patty the best mouthfeel.”

What?! I don’t even know what a “mouthfeel” is, but I’m 100% certain the burger-slinger at McDonald’s is not strategically aligning the beef to glide with you incisors.

See Creator’s Burger Bot in action. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbL_3le40qc

As leaders-by-example, it’s time to ask ourselves some pretty big questions.

As a teacher, how do you Future-Proof your students?
Think about weather-proofing. Weather-proof shoes protect our feet from rain and puddles during storms. Much like preparing to weather an inevitable storm, Future-Proofing is protection against future advancements in technology, Artificial Intelligence, and machine-learning. You become future-proof by being PREPARED for whatever the future holds. *See my ideas below*

Or on an even more personal level…How are you, the teacher, Future-Proofing yourself?
Are you taking the necessary steps to remain relevant in fast-changing culture? Are you comfortable with not knowing everything and embracing the truth that the knowledge you obtain is only useful if it is actually applied in real-world scenarios? Are you learning new ways to involve technology in your classroom and everyday life?

While you ponder and think and even reminisce about those little tidbits your own teachers left with you, savor these Future-Proof ideas…and then go put them into practice:

  • Be Creative. Everyone can create. It’s not some golden ticket given to a selected few at birth. Think weird. Think different. Stand out.
  • Be Compassionate. Though future robots will have abilities to be “affectionate,” they’ll never take the place of a human hug or a good old-fashioned cry session.
  • Be a Problem Solver. It’s time to let the calculators do what they’re good at. In the meantime, you can solve other complex problems. We should be using technology to our advantage, helping us achieve even greater things.
  • Be Interesting. I could soap-box this topic all day long, but here’s the mini-version. Those who are willing to get out of their bubble and experience new things will have an advantage over those who are more comfortably idle. Businesses of the future will gravitate towards diverse perspectives and intentional story-telling. The more you experience, the more interesting you become.