Ngā Matapakinga | Discussion

    Marius Sandu
    Can education keep pace with the realities of everyday life?
    27 June
    Public discussion Created by Marius Sandu

    In its current form, definitely not.  The difference between existing educational systems in different countries is insignificant and all have their roots in two of the great achievements of the nineteenth century. In the Enlightenment ideas that have led to the public educational system and the economic realities brought about by the first industrial revolution. Like then, today's educational system aims at creating a solid knowledge which every individual is going to use as lifelong learning. The success of the first industrial revolution was the factory and its social impact has been the emergence of new classes that have dominated almost the entire twentieth century. The factory shaped the educational system, structuring it in its own image. If we were now at the beginning of the era of the first industrial revolution, the education system would work perfectly well. But in the meantime there was a second industrial revolution and now we are at the beginning of the third. The factory slowly disappears; additive manufacturing is the major technological paradigm that moves increasingly into retail manufacturing. And this new way, in which we produce the goods we use, plus an increasing  trend towards un-learnig, relearning, re-qualifying and professional reorientation, require a different kind of school.

    The third industrial revolution comes with a very important thing: an unprecedented replacement rate of technologies. And more than that, an unprecedented elimination rate of humans from the production processes. And this puts at risk of disappearing, in the next 10-20 years, the trades that seem very safe  today. Simply consider  the example of  a computer programming  job. 30-40 years ago, being a programmer was synonymous with being a sort of scientist. Today the programmer has become the factory worker and there are new professions in the field such as software architect or software engineer which align more with the roles played by the designer and the engineer in the factory. But at the same time, the trend towards visual programming environments, usable with minimal training by anyone who thinks logically and structured are increasingly required. Like factory jobs, which disappear before our eyes, the software factory which now seems indestructible will follow the same path in the future. This is already happening in the banking sector, the sector in which simple operations are no longer performed by humans, but a secure computer system and a user friendly interface. The major problem of the third industrial revolution will be a drastic reduction of jobs. Intelligent systems produce much cheaper than humans. Information technology industry is currently an exception. Recent professionals are being used as software  factory workers. Sure, their earnings are good if we refer to the income of other social groups, but it is a waste of resources to prepare them for research or leadership roles of the production process and use them as laborers. In addition, New Zealand's population has no way to ensure this type of sustainable human resource, but it can ensure a sustainable human resource for R & D centres.

    We are at the moment struggling with an educational system designed in the nineteenth century and a need for human labor in dramatic decline, compounded by a sharp rise in world population. Every economic system comes with its social classes and destroys the old. If the first industrial revolution produced the working class, the third revolution seems to come with a strange social class, which threatens to become the majority: the unemployable individuals. The only way to avert from developing into a world that looks increasingly more so, is to look at the elements which have structured the third industrial revolution: technology and creativity. And for that, the paradigm in education needs to change right now.

     

    What can the New Zealand schools do to better accommodate the demand and supply in the labor market? The only chance we have lies in the orientation of the educational system towards a deep understanding of technology and science, that they should be based on nurturing creativity. A real creativity and not the kind circulated in the corporate language. This word means the ability to combine knowledge to produce something new (i.e. not found by then) and that has value (that can be traded). Such a system requires a two dimensional structure of the curriculum, one vertical, designed and presented so as to convey useful information in an engaging way and with a level of difficulty adapted to reality and another horizontal, that stimulates creativity, to use the knowledge gained in the vertical disciplines of the curriculum and have a practical vector. If I may give parents a little advice: Encourage disjunctive thinking, questions and curiosity. There are a lot of toys that develop serious technological creativity especially for children. Buy them these toys and, especially, with sincerity, try to find out what they like and what not. Encourage them in directions that seem interesting, but after they begin to understand show them how much of that exists in this world. Do not park your children in front of a tablet or computer game. Sure, such a system can be discriminatory in the ways it addresses children and teenagers, favoring families where there is a certain interest for the development of their children and who actively make informed decisions. It also builds an advantageous system for the population of big cities.

    Perhaps we are moving towards a system where traditional and new forms of teaching and learning will coexist for a long time to come.

    It basically looks the same way it does for you and me, @Tessa.Gray - be open to un-learn and re-learn in order to remain relevant. I believe that real problem solving, outside a given framework, an ability to discern between fact, fiction, apparently factual information and possibly proven probability could be a start for a new set of "key competencies". Computational thinking would provide a good platform for the development of those skills. Currently, our high school students are acquiring a considerable level of descriptive skills, which to a certain point, involve some analysis ability. However, analysis doesn't necessarily involve creativity, or at least the kind of creativity I was referring to earlier.

    I wouldn't wish to sound too radical, but as I have previously mentioned, we need to adapt to a world that is changing at an exponential rate. Subject specialized individuals are becoming a species of the past. Universality is what keeps our minds open and our spirit ready to be surprised. Successful computer games have a powerful story line, more often than not, historical, as well as amazing graphics. Medical robots and devices are created by doctors and ultimately, the technical solutions to our current environmental problems will be solved by engineers who have a profound understanding of the living world and our history in the Universe. 

    - By Marius Sandu
    NOTE: You have to be a member of the group in order to reply to a discussion
      • Marius Sandu
        By Marius Sandu
        Jul 3

        It basically looks the same way it does for you and me, Tessa Gray - be open to un-learn and re-learn in order to remain relevant. I believe that real problem solving, outside a given framework, an ability to discern between fact, fiction, apparently factual information and possibly proven probability could be a start for a new set of "key competencies". Computational thinking would provide a good platform for the development of those skills. Currently, our high school students are acquiring a considerable level of descriptive skills, which to a certain point, involve some analysis ability. However, analysis doesn't necessarily involve creativity, or at least the kind of creativity I was referring to earlier.

        I wouldn't wish to sound too radical, but as I have previously mentioned, we need to adapt to a world that is changing at an exponential rate. Subject specialized individuals are becoming a species of the past. Universality is what keeps our minds open and our spirit ready to be surprised. Successful computer games have a powerful story line, more often than not, historical, as well as amazing graphics. Medical robots and devices are created by doctors and ultimately, the technical solutions to our current environmental problems will be solved by engineers who have a profound understanding of the living world and our history in the Universe. 

        • Tessa Gray
          By Tessa Gray
          Jul 3

          Wow this is a thought-provoking piece Marius Sandu, thank you you have given us much food for thought - some concerning, some hopeful. The more we talk about these realities and share alternatives, the braver we'll become to arch from the norm and respond to the reality of a rapidly changing society. Like climate change, I hope it's not so rapid, that the rate of educational change seriously disadvantages our school leavers.

          My question, what does it look like 'out there' for our young people? What do some of those new career pathways look like? What skills do you think our school leavers need that we're not preparing them for?

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