In a design thinking course just wrapping up, I ran across the term repertoire used in a way that was new to me.
I’m used to seeing the term used to refer to the musical pieces a performer is prepared to play or to the whole catalog of music of a particular type. Less often, I’ve seen repertoire applied to the set of skills needed in a particular field.
In “Design Thinking for the Greater Good: Innovation in the Social Sector,” offered on Coursera by the University of Virginia, repertoire was used to refer to an individual’s set of life experiences.
Repertoire includes one’s educational background and work experience, but it’s not a CV. It’s actually a description of the mindset and skill sets a person can bring to a complex problem.
I’ve been thinking about repertoire in this sense for a long time, but I didn’t know that’s what I was thinking about. (I also recently discovered that I’ve been using single-point rubrics for a half century and didn’t know that either. Shades of M. Jourdain.)
The broader the person’s repertoire, the better equipped someone is to work in an unstable world. We certainly live in an unstable world.
Ignore (if you can) political instability.
Think about the changes that are happening in the world economy with the increasing deployment of artificial intelligence and robots taking over many repetitive jobs.
Think about the technology that’s increasingly used in education — technology that’s been invented since this year’s high school graduates started kindergarten.
Narrow, specialized experiences don’t help people — or their institutions — cope with an unstable, uncertain environment. A narrow range of life experiences leaves people vulnerable when the world around them changes.
Even more frightening is that when someone with a narrow range of life experiences teaches, that person transmits their narrow mindset to the students they teach.
It concerns me when I read local teachers’ autobiographies and don’t see any of them mention working anywhere other than education. Do they not have work experience outside education or do they have such experience and not value it?
If they don’t have, or don’t value, work outside schools, how will those people be able to teach students to work in a world where every three-to-four years they need to re-skill for a new occupation?
What about you?
Do you have a repertoire that will enable you to survive in the next 30 uncertain years?
Do you have a repertoire that will allow you to teach students to survive in the next 60 years?