The model of higher education has shaped not only how we institutionalize teaching and learning but also how we approach individual education and talent development. The fundamental model of teaching and learning in higher education and professional training is based on a monastic tradition. The medieval European monasteries and early universities supported training for specific professions (law, medicine and church administration). It started the image of people dedicating themselves to learning a standardized curriculum on specific subjects. Professional teachers provided instruction. Education took place in self-regulated, sometimes isolated communities that prepared and certified individuals to return to society. I can see this image still very clear in now-a-days education. But does it still fit to our society?
It is about time to change education to meet the needs of our youth and built a better future. For education I identified 4 important tendencies:
– Education becomes more adaptive. A shift from the fixed timing and courses of study to more competency based approaches on demand;
– Education becomes more personalized. Technology and other resources allow learning to be optimized. The distinction of learning, styles, pace, effort, interests and experiences of individuals can be monitored and used to personalize learning and make it dynamic and self-organised;
– Education becomes more continuous. Life long learning is what we all know for a fact. But future learning enables ongoing career re-casting and more meaningful personal development. Not restricted by time, place and other traditional requirements needed to earn credentials or a degree;
– Education becomes more creativity orientated. As a reaction to rationalization of science, the emphasis on creativity and innovation can be recognized. Human-centered learning integrates empathy, critical and multi-disciplinair thinking and getting things done.
These are exciting, for some provocative and potentially far-reaching challenges. For our youth, individuals and society, new educational tools and resources hold the promise of empowering individuals to develop a fuller array of competencies, skills and knowledge and of unleashing their creative and full potential.
But how do young people see the world? And when they think about the future, what do they envision? Our youth is optimistic and has a desire to inspire others. They want to travel the world and meet new friends. They search for fulfilling and diverse careers ending up finding balance and stability. Here are some key insights (based on research) on young people and what they find most important:
Youngsters have an interest in other cultures and global issues. Nearly 9 out of 10 describe themselves as curious about the world. They see the world as one and want to learn more about other countries. International borders place no limits on their friendships, attitudes, or the content they consume. This gives them a global perspective on nearly everything they touch. And when it comes to the future, they truly see the whole world as their playground.
Being part of a loving family is a key definition of success. Research showes that 55% of the youngsters answered ‘being part of a loving family’, is the top sign of success. Familial closeness outranked being rich, having an enjoyable job, doing well in school, having children, and even being famous. Friends and family are so important to them because they are a source of comfort and direction in a confusing world. One thing that’s different about the youngsters is that relationships are no longer restricted by location. Technological advances like social media and FaceTime allow those with loved ones abroad to remain in close contact.
Happiness outranks achievement as a measure of success. Nearly 3 out of 4 young people define success as ‘being happy’. They want to enjoy what they do, whatever that may be. Making a lot of money is a plus, but it’s not the most important thing in life. This is a key difference from their parents’ generation – they put emotional well-being ahead of financial success. Instead of taking a linear career path that allows people to enjoy themselves after retiring, they want to take pleasure in the journey.
They are very happy, despite troubled economies and job market anxieties. More than 7 out of 10 describe themselves as ‘very happy’, illustrating their optimistic view of the future. They do feel they live in confusing times, yet they look forward to more positive circumstances down the line. More than this, they take a proactive approach to ‘getting on with things’ to ensure that they have the best future possible.
They believe their generation can make the world a better place – but they’re unsure of how to participate as individuals. More than 8 out of 10 youngsters feel their generation has the potential to change the world for the better. They see the need for change and believe that they can take responsibility for making it happen. However, the specific role they see themselves playing in this change is not yet clear. It’s more a collective responsibility than an individual one, and they have to hope that everyone will do their part to bring the positive change that will improve the world.
With knowing the needs of the youth we can change education with them. Indeed, many of the changes underway call to mind the words of Irish poet William Butler Yeats that, “Education is not about filling a bucket but lighting a fire.” As we catalog and celebrate having more ways to light more fires, we should pause over a basic question: Towards what shared purpose(s) are we developing and choosing to embrace new ways to learn?
Rather than mastering a specific sets of skills or areas of knowledge, education increasingly is a continuing journey. This journey is marked by learning more and more deeply about one’s own capabilities while also communicating with others. Today’s revolution is about being a talent who can grow and contribute to practice and isn’t about having a talent that will improve by learning opportunities.
It’s that struggle that shines a light on a more fundamental transformation taking place in education. Rather than shifting or spreading authority among institutions, today’s transformation involves the democratization of learning so that anyone can be a guide or enabler.
It might sound a bit utopian, the call for more robust and ongoing learning has been put into practice by some of our most admired, creative and successful organizations, like Pixar and Google. The authority of this learning rests deeply in the organization itself. These are individuals willing to reflect on their shared values and shown commitment to their individual and collective development. What can education and teacher learn from this?
More and more opportunities to develop knowledge and skills are recognised. Also the role of choosing your individual strategy to execute learning drives us to the question:’What will guide our choices’? Besides situational needs, individual judgment, and organizational priorities, we might ask: ‘What should connect the development of individuals’? Some forward-looking learning institutions have identified the values overarching their learning. Most of the time they shifting emphasis from acquiring knowledge to ways of thinking and doing (critical thinking, creative thinking, and effective communication). But more generally, the question remains unanswered of what connects the many individual learning opportunities that continue to emerge as traditional educational experiences become more adaptive and new ones emerge.
I also recognize how all these changes and impacts can potentially emerge from a range of learning opportunities and situations other than college. To be sure, the intensive and structured collegiate experience, can be special. But to privilege college as the singular institutional is ignoring the rapidly evolving potential of other learning settings and situations.
Leading the future of learning requires that we take time to reflect on and understand more explicitly which values and priorities underpin and connects all of the adaptive and personalized opportunities surrounding us.
I believe that learning must have a life-changing potential. Learning opens opportunities. A learning experience opens minds and worlds in ways that stretch people to become different. The experience teaches them to know more. But I’m satisfied when the experience helps people to find a passion they had never imagined that then serves as the basis of a vocation or profession to which they can devote their lives. Ultimately, people develop new ways of approaching the world, through the power of learning, changing to adapt to what they have come to understand.
That is why I want to educate people by creating a learning experience. The experience connects heart, head and hands. Learning is talent driven, done in multi disciplinairy teams and coached with a grow-mindset. The focus in the learning process is on empowerment and entrepreneurship rooted in a Socratic approach. The hole learning experience is underpinned with a online environment that is adaptive, personalized and unique. And it is this drive that keeps me going everyday