David Petty

September 10, 2019

David Petty is a teacher of computing and robotics at Brookline High School. He is a strong believer in project-based learning, a passionate advocate of “CS for All” students, and he has always been a maker. Prior to teaching he had a career as an entrepreneur, engineer, and software developer.

Future-Ready Skills Review

In the Playful Journey Lab, we know we care about future-ready skills. But just what are future-ready skills? Whose job is it to identify and define them? There are myriad frameworks that have been researched and compiled already, and we wanted to collect some of them to inform our assessment and design work. The list David created is not meant to be comprehensive, nor is it necessarily a “best of” list. It is a sampling of the skills that other organizations feel are important for students to build, and it has been thought-provoking for us to consider these lists of skills as a larger collection.

If you’re interested in what future-ready skills are, start by browsing the subset of skills displayed below, and by looking through some of the frameworks in the compendium document. Then, gather some friends and discuss:

  • What categories can you group these skills into?
  • Why are they useful for work and life in the future?
  • What other skills should be represented here?

Authentic inquiry
Concentrational focus
Perspective taking
Critical thinking

Comfort with ambiguity
Systems thinking
Scientific process
Growth mindset

Network building
Planning and organization
Strategic vision

Project management
Performance management
Culture development
Learning how to learn
Interpersonal skills
Personal skills and attitudes
Creative thinking
Systems thinking

What is a Robot?

One way to think about the skills that are most essential to build for the future is by considering: what will robots do more of, and what will humans still need to do? In order to answer this, we must think through what a robot is exactly. David developed this activity as an introductory element for his robotics course, and to get people thinking more deeply about what defines a robot, and what doesn’t. With a small group or a whole class, use this set of posters, modify the instructions as you see fit, and let the robot debates begin!

  1. Print the Robot Sheets and hang them on the wall.
  2. Make sure there are sticky notes and pens available.
  1. Ask each person to make a list of everything they think of when they hear the word robot.
  2. Have them share their lists with a partner.
  1. Have each person answer the question: Is this a robot? for each item displayed.
  2. Individually and silently, they should write evidence for their assertion (reasons why or why not) on the sticky side of note. Then stick it to the corresponding Robot Sheet so that the reasoning cannot be seen.
  3. Make sure everyone has posted an answer for each picture.
  1. For each picture, have one person read through the evidence and announce whether the group decision was YES or NO to the robot question.
  2. Facilitate discussion around the reasoning, pointing out which ones seem to have agreement and which ones are open to interpretation.
  3. As you go, start identifying robot attributes and grouping them into categories. As a group, see if you can come up with a definitive list of characteristics something must have to be called a true robot. And conversely, a list of things that disqualify something from being a real robot.

Playful Journey Connection

The lab’s focus on transforming assessment stems from the need to measure skills that are traditionally hard to quantify, and therefore rarely taught in formal educational settings. In order to experiment with creative ways to assess these skills, we need to first understand what they are, what they look like, and why they are necessary. The compendium of future-ready skills frameworks is a valuable resource for us to spark discussions about what we should be teaching and therefore assessing, both within the lab and with partners and practitioners.