We’ve had the industrial revolution and we’re enjoying the digital revolution…and that’s why we now need a classroom revolution.
I really enjoyed this article in The Atlantic about Cathy N Davidson, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University in North Carolina. She has been researching the kind of skills that will be needed in the future and, like a growing number of thought-leaders, has found the typical western educational experience to be found wanting.
Our educational systems were designed all those years ago to prepare students for the focused, individual and task-specific forms of attention demanded by 19th century industrial assembly lines. But our world now is much more interactive, contributory and globalised – a world with constant change and complexity, where creativity plays a much bigger role in productivity.
The headline statistic from her research is that 65% of kids entering school just now will work in careers that have not been invented yet.
Our classrooms are failing to adapt to this change, and our education systems are failing to give teachers the constant training needed to keep up with the digital revolution (just like industry players need). Prof Davidson’s new book Now You See It goes into this in more detail.
Industry sees the problem
In the UK this problem was recently highlighted by Google executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who was this year’s speaker at the UK broadcasting industry’s premier annual speech, the MacTaggart Lecture. Schmidt highlighted in his speech a classic example: the fact that the UK’s ‘national curriculum’ (the core curriculum that all state schools must deliver) teaches kids to use standard software packages but not how to write their own code – something that would encourage curiosity and invention.
We must innovate our educational systems, but how do we get over the usual hurdle: the many political and social pressures to deliver traditional targets in a standardised way?
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