Around the globe, economies are shifting away from machine-focused industries toward human-powered creative industries. Many adults are caught in the middle of this shift. Educated for the industrial age but trying to make a living in the information age. Inspired by the work of John Abbott and some others I wrote this post about the effect of this for education.
Shifting to an education model that produces people who thrive on interconnectivity will take a dramatic revisioning of society. But that type of shift might be just what is required to ensure that the education students receive in the future meets that dramatically different end goal.
Changing the educational paradigm means replacing the metaphor. A concept of the world and their people as machine-like entities shaped the educational system and many other aspects of society.
While some educators spend some of their free time learning on the new (and sometimes not so new) research findings, most are continuing doing what has been done before. The last group of educators is protected by the current trend of increased focus on standardized testing and a one-size-have-to-fits-all approach.
In an uncertain moment, they can be nervous about letting young people find their own way forward.
Students who have grown up in the current university system are used to being told exactly what they need to do in order to succeed. But the emphasis on grades and outcomes can have the unintended consequence of making learning all about achieving an external goal. The increasing focus on standardized testing has made the system even more regimented. The one-size-have-to-fits-all approach drives students crazy and often develops a lack of self esteem. Eventually it drives students away from education.
Removing the stress of grades and outcome can help focus students back on learning together, being curious and empowered. Especially if the teacher makes a special emphasis to build a culture of trust.
While educators, psychologists and other researchers have repeatedly noted that social and emotional skills like empathy are some of the most important ones for success, many universities still lag in developing effective programs to nurture those soft skills. Especially empathy and emotional intelligents in general are key for connecting with others, solving problems and developing moral courage. Many of these skills develop naturally when students have the opportunity to play together in unstructured environments and so develop a sense of self-regulation.
forward thinking teachers
There are different approaches to educating students. Often in small pilot-based parts of university. Most of these initiatives are characterized by the same aspects. The focus is on curiosity, inquiry and long term projects, with the belief that students will ask for support and learn when acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills to achieve something that is important to them.
Forward-thinking teachers are needed to flip the system. It is important that teachers help students to ask the right questions and use the technology tools available to them to find credible information. I also recommend teachers to give students the ability to work on long-term projects that meaningfully contribute to the world, helping to provide the motivation for independent learning.