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How do we prepare children for a changing world? For a start, by accepting that an education system that places emphasis on content above all else isn’t appropriate – not when the Internet makes information of all sorts available within seconds. What matters now is entrenching values and building skills such as creativity, collaboration, curiosity, agility, and innovation. Skills, which can be applied across an endless spectrum of contexts are vital if students are to succeed. This approach helps to bridge the gap between education and employability and ensures that students are equipped with the competencies they need to find jobs in a world where organizations expect their staffers to be able to make a difference from the moment they sit behind their desks.
One of the biggest changes, which we are already seeing, is the impact of technology in the classroom. Whereas we may have been lucky if we had a large, slow computer at home, now students have access to a wide variety of devices. This means that the role of the teacher has evolved and we now function more as facilitators, helping students navigate the online offerings. Students are expected to play a more active role in their own education, as the days of a teacher standing in front of a classroom spouting factoids are long gone. After all, who needs this kind of pedagogue when one can hold the world of information in one’s palm? But students will also be expected to collaborate with their classmates, so that they can embark on shared voyages of discovery. At the same time, the learning process becomes more individual, with children able to tailor their experience to their own needs and pace.
With rote learning hitting the high road, teachers are being encouraged to explore and implement different ways of learning. That’s good news for children who respond more to kinetic stimulus – learning by carrying out physical activity – than visual material – and a way of levelling the playing fields, because it takes into account the understanding that we don’t all learn in the same way.
What does this all mean? The classroom, as we knew it, is obsolete. Just as we sniggered at the thought of taking a course in shorthand or marvel that people ever took the time to send a fax, so, too, our children will come to regard our former classrooms as relics of a quaint past.
But, while you may feel ill-equipped to help your children navigate a world that looks nothing like your own, there’s plenty you can do to help. Start by getting them to ask questions and to stop accepting the status quo; to think about why we have always done things a certain way, and what would happen if we changed just one variable; to have conversations, especially with people whose lives are different from their own; to do just one thing differently, every day; to embrace learning as a never-ending journey – and as one of the most exciting things we can do in a world that never stops offering new discoveries.
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