Now showing items tagged teaching for tomorrow

The importance of technology in education is becoming increasingly undeniable in schools around the globe. As the future steadily approaches us, today’s students and teachers simply cannot exclude digital literacy and technological competence from the skillset being learned. COVID has accelerated the integration of technology into schooling, as remote learning has required innovative solutions to everyday lessons.

Australia’s reform to its national assessment program, NAPLAN, to include digital literacy in its testing is a clear indication of the necessary advancements of education in keeping up with the times.[1] COVID has meant that learning these crucial digital skills has become a top priority and students and teachers alike will benefit from this long-term. Online learning, innovative technology and digital abilities as seemingly niche as coding, are now essential for students’ preparation for the future.

‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.’[1] We have all heard the adage, so much so that it is often dismissed as a cliché.

While most of us know this statement and agree with the philosophy behind it, the reality is that very few teachers and schools genuinely involve students in learning and make education active. Despite John Dewey’s urging over a century ago to embrace experiential education and abandon the model of students being passive receivers of learning, the ‘expounding’ approach persists.[2]

The classrooms of history have been deep in a process of change for decades, but this year has accelerated that transformation more than ever. With the classrooms of the future rapidly becoming those of today, the old idiom has again been proved true: necessity really is the mother of invention.

‘In my experience, innovation can only come from the bottom. Those closest to the problem are in the best position to solve it. Everyone must be able to experiment, learn, and iterate. Position, obedience and tradition should hold no power.’[1]This statement of Greg Lindon, an instrumental contributor in the design of Amazon’s customer interface, summarises one of innovation’s most crucial keys.

While we celebrate visionary and highly visible innovators such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, it’s important to remember that innovation is not the domain of a ‘ruling elite’.

This year, more than any, we have seen the power of fake news. Politics, climate change, public scandals and the virus which has overwhelmed our year, have revealed a vulnerability in society’s ways of consuming news and information.

My colleague and friend Claire Madden suggests that students today are increasingly ‘brokers of information’ not ‘knowers of content’.[1] This is an important distinction and a dangerous trend as it means students are often very willing to propagate information without discerning its veracity or accuracy. This trend in young people carries just as easily to older generations whose engagement on digital platforms also leaves them vulnerable to misinformation.

In a world of fake news, alternative facts and conspiracy theories, in which each individual learns and shares information on complex and powerful digital platforms, this trend reaches new levels of danger. The ability to discern fact from fiction is fundamental.

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.

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