Now showing items tagged teaching for tomorrow

Perhaps the most common fear of teachers in a classroom is that of losing control. The fear of students running amok and dominating the room is enough to send many teachers back into the traditional authoritarian format, where silent and repetitive work is the key means of learning. In my experience of working with schools and teachers, the words ‘Project-Based Learning’ are often quick to conjure up these fears.

One of the strangest notions I come across routinely in my work with educators is that of the ‘real world’, usually spoken of in opposition to the world of education. When leaders, parents or teachers themselves separate the education of tomorrow’s workers, leaders and problem-solvers, from their future real world, they put that future at a serious risk.

In order to make learning experiences meaningful and impactful, it is this divide between the learning environment and the so-called ‘real world’ that needs to be demolished. Teachers who hope to make learning relevant and engaging must go to great lengths to bring the outside world into their classrooms. While in the past there were practical barriers to this, technology enables a real connection with the outside world in some wonderfully exciting ways.

Think back to your teachers at school. What characterised them? In schools, the approaches to teaching and authority tend to group themselves into four key categories.

These categories apply just as readily to forms of leadership that we come across in workplaces, teams and the public sphere. The traps that teachers fall into are just as dangerous for leaders in any industry and the potential for both harm and good is just as strong.

The need for change in education has been an urgent topic of interest in recent years. As it is perhaps the most future-focussed industry that exists, equipping the innovators, workers and leaders of tomorrow, its vulnerability to current disruption is a necessary area of concern.

For years, it has been clear that education needs to evolve. Many teaching methods felt outdated when I was in school, let alone for current students who are preparing for a future that is fast-approaching.

The adults of tomorrow need to be equipped with skills that enable critical, creative and innovative thinking, but the teaching of today continues to drill existing knowledge and tired paradigms into students.

It may sound like something out of a sci-fi film, but technology firm Promethean recently trialled the use of an interactive hologram teacher in a London classroom. Known as a ‘HumaGram’ this holographic educator is touted as being highly interactive and extraordinarily lifelike.[1]

Readin, writin’ and ‘rithmetic… I’m sure that if many of us Gen X and older were to return to our schooling days it may have resembled something like this. For generations, education has involved the rote learning of dates, formulas and quotes which are forgotten as soon as they are assessed.

If there is any industry prone to disruption, it is education. The fundamental place for future preparation, you would expect the schooling system to be ahead of its time with its eyes on the future, but as the world had changed rapidly in recent decades, it has proved itself prone to walking in the steps of the past.

If you rose through the grades of the schooling system in the last forty years or so, it is almost certain that at some point you were encouraged toward university. With its lures of prestige and its promises of the expansion of the mind, and a cap, gown and certificate waiting at the end, it has kept young people captivated by the hope of their own future.

Inversely, vocational training, apprenticeships and industry work have been negatively affected by people’s prejudices against them. Presenting as paths of education with fewer prospects, less prestige and less purpose, numbers within them have dropped dramatically compared to tertiary education, and society is feeling the burden of this imbalance.

Recent years have seen the discussion of the relevance of the current education system come to dominate public dialogue. Doubts and fears have risen surrounding the prospects of the current form of education in Western countries, the preparation of students for a rapidly changing technological world, and inequalities within the system.

The need for change is clear, but there is an underlying concern that it seems unachievable and unrealistic to adopt the progressive practices that often seem limited to the north of Europe.

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