“Education is really aimed at helping students get to the point where they can learn on their own” Noam Chomsky. I agree. I believe the purpose of education is to make us think beyond what already exists, rather than consuming factors and details of things that have already happened. In our current paradigm, most of us believe that education is the first step towards happiness and financial success. However, someone forgot to tell this to Walt Disney, Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Some of the most notable men in history didn’t go to or never finished college. These examples give credence to Sir Ken Robinson’s argument that schools kill creativity. Robinson proposes that educations need to be changed the following three ways:
• There should be an individualisation of the education process
• Education should nurture curiosity and
• Education should have more emphasis on creativity and less on conformity and compliance with standardized testing
Children are “guided” by parents in what to study with the intention that the child will be educated enough to acquire a well-paying job. The trouble with that is that we only need so many doctors, engineers and lawyers, programmers and game designers. The jobs that are paying well today will not necessarily be the ones that pay well into the future. This is because by the time the child graduates there will be an oversupply of that skill set because all the other well-meaning parents have been doing the same thing.
Additionally, technology is changing the landscape of our society. In a last quarter of a century, we have changed how we operate as individuals, businesses and society. This change is ongoing and according to the experts we are just getting started. The internet of things (IoT) is what we are moving towards. The IoT is essentially a network of physical objects which have been embedded with connectivity which allows them to send and receive data. The internet of things, will further change the structure and function of society.
The IoT is already transforming how we deliver education. It is moving us away from a knowledge transfer model, where a teacher we have a predetermined goal in mind, to a more collaborative, self-directed model where students can develop the skills necessary to be successful in today’s economic and technological environment.
One of the first countries to make significant changes to their education system is Finland. Finland has outperformed North American and many other nations around in the field of education. It recently announced that it will be phasing out the “teaching by subject” to “teaching by topic”. Liisa Pohjolainen who is in charge of youth and adult education stated that “We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow. There are schools that are teaching in the old fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginnings of the 1900s – but the needs are not the same and we need something fit for the 21st century.” The Finns are focusing on “joyful learning” where children learn to develop their creative thinking skills.
As an educator, it took me some time for me to adjust to the new paradigm. I have seen the firsthand how delivery methodologies greatly impact student performance. I was trained in the old system. Six years ago when I started teaching Corporate Finance, it was delivered old school style, with the accompany pomp! Students didn’t do very well. I am fortunate to be teaching at an amazing institute and I have learned a lot from my students. They have taught me how to teach them. I had to make the course, something relatable, collaborative and to some extent a bit self-directed. The proof, as they say is in the pudding. The pass rate for the course has gone up and the general level of understanding continues to improve year by year.
As a mother, I also tried teaching my children, under the old paradigm. I realize that there is sometimes a clash between my approach and what they do at school. As a result, like I did with my children what I did with my students; I take my cue from them. They are teaching me how to teach them. The ultimate purpose for me as an educator is to foster creative thinking whether it is my own children or my students.
While it is true that technology is changing the execution of pedagogy, the purpose of education still remains the same, it is to continuously make us think beyond where are. At the end of the day in our capitalist society, education is still the key that opens many doors for us and it is what is needed to prepare us with the skills necessary to earn a livelihood. It is (with the exception of a few) the basis for future financial success. However to be successful today requires more than knowing the facts, it requires thinking outside the box. Human creativity is the driving force for our economic evolution and we have to ensure that our children are guided to harness their creative power and be allowed to nurture their own geniuses. Perhaps as we continue to foster new technology and new teaching paradigms which foster more creativity and people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs will be the norm rather than the exception.