Education is dynamic, and what matters most in education institutions at the moment, is game changing potential. Innovation leads to more innovation – and the current rate of change is exponential.
Education needs to not only keep up with this unprecedented, whirlwind pace of change, but transform with it. While we may not know exactly what future generations will be doing career-wise, we do know for sure that they will not live and work the way we do today. Governments, education institutions and parents all need to ask, “How can we prepare current and future generations to thrive in this rapidly transforming world?”
Education is a big challenge now. If we do not change the way we teach, or what we teach, thirty years from now the current youth will be in hot water because we will have a generation of young adults who have been taught knowledge based competencies and not future skills. Children who started school this year, will be retiring (assuming retirement age is still 65) in 2079.
Do you know what 2079 is going to look like?
We have NO idea what the world will look like then, and yet we are educating them this year… for their future. The main challenges education is faced with are:
Preparing for the unknown.
Delivering effective learning and teaching.
Discovering the best way to support students.
The challenges of a possibly ongoing socially distanced campuses.
Sustaining the business of education.
It is without doubt that education is at the very centre of preparing present and future generations to succeed. We cannot stress enough how vital it is that we have an education system that develops human potential, and not one that tries to simply gear humans up to go against machines.
“An education system designed for an industrial economy that is now being automated requires transformation, from a system based on facts and procedures to one that actively applies that knowledge to collaborative problem-solving.” (Graham Brown-Martin)
People are not going to retire from the labour force. Machines will take over some jobs, but the human component will still be very much needed. With an unknown future ahead of us, the most valuable skills we can teach are about what we have the potential to accomplish, rather than simply reciting a set of facts and procedures. The anxiety around machines and improving technology is mostly to do with potential job loss, but people will still have to live, and they will still have to work, so we have to train them to do things differently. Think differently.
The secret to future job creation…
There are three key areas where humans will not be replaced by machines:
creative endeavours – scientific discovery, creative writing, music, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Machines cannot do that like people can.
social interaction – machines just do not have the kind of emotional intelligence that humans have. Even Siri has her limitations. When you tell Siri you are sad the response is, “I’m sorry to hear that. Sometimes taking a quiet moment can help. You can try listening to your favourite music or doing some stretches.” That is about as warm and fuzzy as machines get.
physical dexterity and mobility – man has walked and run and swim for years. The evolution of movement has given people exceptional agility and physical dexterity. Machines do not have that.
Evolving the curriculum implies making changes to an existing system… but perhaps what we need to do is design new learning experiences that fuse with the necessary future skills. Education needs to focus on skills that will empowers learners to be prepared for whatever the future holds. Creative thinking, design thinking, logical decision-making, innovation – these are what will be necessary to solve real world challenges. These will be the key to thriving in this century, and to survival going forward, but what are the uniquely human components that we need to develop?
We believe it is based on imagination and obsession.
My mother-in-law believes babies are born geniuses but get less ‘genius’ every day. I would like to take that a step further by throwing the cat among the pupils and saying, what if it is the education system that robs us of our genius?
gen•ius jēn′yəs n. Extraordinary intellectual and creative power n. A person of extraordinary talent and intellect. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition)
If genius is intellect and talent, then education, the way it has existed for the past 200 years, disconnects a lot of people from their natural talents (although I do acknowledge that it is changing in some education facilities). Everyone has a talent; that natural preference that energises them and gives deep satisfaction. It is the thing they do that they get lost in because time evaporates. The education system does not always allow for those talents to develop. Often talents need to be uncovered and discovered, but the only way we can bring those into their full being is if they are given the correct circumstances and environment to thrive.
People often don’t use their talents. Most people will tell you they don’t have anything they are really good at. Some do not even know what their talents are, what truly energises them. They go from day to day, tolerating the hours, waiting for the weekend. Lethargic in the ‘it-is-what-it-is’ complacency.
Complacency inadvertently impedes transformation.
People accept things are the way they are because that is how they have always been. Education has been how it is for ages, and so there is an acceptance, even an expectation, for how it is. But, for people to thrive we need to create an environment that will nurture that genius.
We need to tailor the educational environment to enable people to harness their talents. We need to tailor the curriculum so that people learn how to learn and love to learn. We need to teach people how to creatively come up with their own solutions with the support of education institutions.
Collaboration is one of the buzz words of the time, but imagine education using the remarkable resources that exist, combined with the harnessed talent of the teachers, when the teachers and the learners are speaking the same language. This would revolutionise education and teaching.
Humans cannot survive without relying on the diversity of our talents.
The crux of the challenge then, is to reconstruct our definition of intelligence. We need to relook at what the goal of education is – currently I believe academic achievement is the goal. We were led to believe – thanks to Industrialisation – that academic achievement leads to tertiary education, which leads to a degree and the guarantee of a solid job, which leads to success, which equates to happiness. Or so we were told.
The reality is that degrees are becoming worth less and less. Young adults with degrees are leaving universities and cannot find jobs. Now, the jobs previously guaranteed with degrees, require Masters levels, or PhDs. Degrees, on the academic food chain, are pretty close to the bottom. So, what now?
We need to radically reform our view of intelligence.
The hierarchy of academic subjects has always been maths and languages at the top, followed by the ‘learning subjects’(humanities) and bringing up the rear, the arts. But why?
It just is what it is, right?
Creativity in education is as important as literacy and mathematical ability, and it should carry the same status.
My biggest fear for the youth in this day and age of instant gratification and passive entertainment, is not that there will not be jobs, but rather, that they won’t be able to create jobs. Children are naturally creative. It is part of that genius they are born with. They learn through their senses and through experimentation. They are not scared to be wrong which means that if they do not know, they will still try. They will take a chance. If you are not prepared to try things, to take chances, or to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.
What happens? Why do they stop taking chances?
I believe we school the creativity out of them. The education system is not a ‘safe to fail’ environment. In fact, in school, we make them afraid of being wrong – mistakes and those dreaded red pen X’s are anxiety causing dreaded smears on our self-esteem. “You are wrong,” is the worst thing you can hear. We make them afraid to fail, to test, to try. We make them fail to be creative.
We educate the creativity out of them.
If we want to prepare them for their futures, we need to not educate the creativity our of them. We need to celebrate the gift of human imagination. We need to nurture human talent and intelligence. We need to realise that intelligence is diverse, it is interactive, and it is distinct. For years psychologists have been talking about different types of intelligence. We have IQ and EQ, and Gardener mentions nine types of intelligence in his theories. So why then, is the education system largely focused on academic achievement as a measure of intelligence, and not on all types of intelligence.
People thought Einstein had a learning disability because he was very slow to learn to talk. When he wrote the entrance exam for a polytechnic school in Zurich, he failed. He passed maths, but failed botany, zoology, and the languages section. He did eventually graduate, but only just.
Do you think he was a genius?
We need an education system that acknowledges talent and energy for the creative capacity it has. The performance of learners can be considerably improved by understanding the contributions each makes and has the potential to make.
We need a different measure and a different language – the language of insights and energies. An inclusive approach to education that gives educators and learners insights into themselves and each other. The goal of education institutions should be to educate their whole beings so that they can face this unpredictable future with confidence, passion, and energy, knowing full well the impact they can make going forward.
This is why you need The GC Index® and The Young People Index®.
The GC Index® / Young People Index® is a revolutionary online assessment tool being used worldwide in schools to transform young people’s lives and enable educators to identify and nurture the key talents of young people, the leaders and workforce of the future.
Institutions are using it to understand the key learning insights and outcomes of the index profiles of their students, and the teachers.
It is vital that each and every young person is aware of their own individual strengths and skills, so they can not only see the value they add in the classroom or in society, but are also able to make more informed choices about their future.
Using the tool we will help learners focus on their Future Impact, because knowing who they are and how they can make an impact and contribution in their lives is one of the most valuable ways we can prepare our future leaders for the world they are heading into.