Ensuring a world-class education for every Arizona student is Expect More Arizona’s mission.  By building engaged leadership and public commitment, we are working to ensure all Arizona students are prepared to thrive in college, career and life.

This month, we are featuring the third of our five Building Blocks of a World-Class Education in Arizona – Commitment to Innovation.  In order for students to be prepared for success in college and career, they need to be critical thinkers and innovative problem-solvers who are prepared for the jobs we want in Arizona and who will strengthen Arizona’s global leadership and quality of life.

The reality is that the world has changed at a more rapid rate than ever before due to the last few decades of technological advancements.  Our goals and approach to educating Arizona’s students must adapt to our society’s evolving needs in order to ensure our students are prepared.  Did you know?

  • Today’s average smartphone has more computer power than NASA had in 1969 when they put a man on the moon. 1
  • The Sony playstation of today, which costs $300, has the power of a military supercomputer of 1997, which cost millions of dollars. 1
  • The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004. 2
  • Humans create more data in just two days than was created in all of history up until the year 2003. 3
  • It is estimated that 40 exabytes (40 Billion Gigabytes) of unique new information will be generated worldwide this year.4

We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented in order to solve problems we don’t yet know are problems.  In the 21st century workplace, we can’t just know facts and knowledge, we need to apply our knowledge to solve new problems.

As part of Commitment to Innovation, Expect More Arizona believes that students must be skilled at:

  • Critical thinking – using disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded and informed by evidence.
  • Problem-solving– looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective, thinking “outside of the box” and applying knowledge in new ways.  Innovation enables America to remain a global leader and we are positioned to be a national model for innovation.  In fact:  Arizona was recently named by CNN as the Most Entrepreneurial State and the study named Arizona as the best place in the country for start-up businesses, noting the state’s strong labor pool as an asset.5

And finally, our students must be global citizens.  Students must cultivate a responsibility to their communities and to the world around them.

In Arizona, there are many examples of this Commitment to Innovation and schools that are cultivating critical thinking and problem solving in important ways.  For example, at Arizona State University’s College of Technology and Innovation (CTI), students are addressing real-world problems in a hands-on, laboratory environment, starting their freshman year.   In fact, CTI’s student work was recently acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Another example of innovation is found at Carpe Diem Collegiate High School and Middle School in Yuma.  Carpe Diem is changing the way students are taught.  Teachers at Carpe Diem supplement concepts that students learn through computer-based technology.  Throughout the day, students participate in small group subject-specific workshops with teachers who work to get students to think critically about what they’re learning and apply it to class work.  While innovation doesn’t always have to include technology, it is about finding ways to help our students reach better outcomes and become better prepared for their futures.  The creative use of technology is one way that Carpe Diem is helping students be prepared to thrive in college, career and life.

These two examples and many others illustrate Arizona’s Commitment to Innovation and help ensure that our students are prepared for the jobs we want in Arizona.

Read more September Newsletter articles:
Vote 4 Education: 10/10 A Day of Action
Arizona Launches Common Core Standards Resources for Educators, Families and Communities
A Strong Foundation in Reading for All Arizona Students
Communities Working Together to Build a World-Class Education System 

1 Physics of the Future, Michio Kaku
2  Shift Happens, 2012
3  Google CEO Erik Schmidt
4 Michael Wesch, Human Futures for Technology and Education
5 http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2012/smallbusiness/1206/gallery.best-places-entrepreneurs/index.html