Schools of the future

Over a casual lunch today with the in-laws, we discussed how different the world is likely to look when their grandkids are all grown up.

We talked about how the future generation may never need to learn to drive because in the not-so-distant future they will be able to get online and order electric cars (driverless) to take them wherever they want to go.

This got me thinking about how the nature of learning is constantly adapting.

And how it is becoming more and more apparent that schools and teaching have to be different in light of this evolution.

I don’t have a crystal ball or clairvoyant abilities, but here are some things of which I’m certain:

1. The objective of schooling is no longer to prepare kids for jobs. How can it be, if the jobs of the future can’t be foreseen, or potentially even imagined, by us geriatric, analogue adults.

2. Schools need to be collaborative as much as they are competitive. What’s the point of a boy or girl being able to regurgitate facts on a test, if that same boy or girl can’t be a good team player who respects the people around them? A courteous member of society, a responsible citizen of the world?

3. Kids need to be taught how to learn rather than what to learn. They need skills rather than content, and they need perspective. They need to know how to gain grit and how to hold onto it despite what’s happening around them. They need to be shown that the internet is not the only source of information out there. In fact, it’s often not the best one, or even a reliable one.

4. Morality must be embedded in all aspects of learning. Graduates of educational institutions must have earned not just a piece of paper with a bunch of grades on it, but also a strong sense of right and wrong. A moral compass, an ethical conscience, an interest in social justice and a desire to genuinely make the world better.

5. Kids need more voice, more choice and more play. Their autonomy and innate capabilities as children need to be recognised by educators, and they need copious amounts of carefully planned and scaffolded, unstructured, inquiry-based, project-based PLAY.

6. We mustn’t forget that some things can’t be learnt through play. For example, how to read. This needs systematic, explicit teaching of phonics, fluency and comprehension. Much research is available to inform teachers of best pedagogical practice to fit each concept, and good teachers read it.

7. Learning is more engaging for students if it takes place in an integrated, relevant, hands-on, spaced out way. Although subject delineations aid scheduling (especially in high school), this kind of isolated and random imparting of knowledge is more difficult for learners to understand and retain. From studying the human brain, we now know that synapses thicken and neurons intensify when ideas can latch onto other neural pathways that already exist, as well as when they’re fired up on more than one occasion.

8. The key to motivation is curiosity. It is the key. A good teacher knows how to provoke interest, how to pique inquisitiveness, and how to use these to hook students in to lessons.

9. Technology is our friend. Some more traditional schools and teachers (read “older”) are scared of the very electronic devices that make today’s classrooms so much more exciting and interactive than their predecessors. They don’t know what they don’t know. Better schools harness the power of all the latest gadgets to improve learning outcomes for its pupils.

10. Education will continue to advance, and students must be involved in this process. New research will be undertaken, current practices will be examined for merit and found wanting. Resources will constantly be renewed and teachers will need to respond. This will need to take the form of gathering feedback, reflecting and taking action.

In light of a shift towards a more personalised learner experience, teachers of the future must be prepared to be data collectors, as well as analysts, planners, collaborators, curriculum experts, synthesizers, problem-solvers and researchers.

“The future of learning and teaching: Big changes ahead for Education”

I don’t know about you, but I find thinking about the future of schooling to be terribly exciting, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.


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One comment

  1. So true that education needs to be focused more on skills rather than content. When kids learn how to use their minds rather than just absorb facts, they can become creators, not just consumers. Sounds like teachers have a challenging and exciting role into the future.

    Liked by 1 person

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