What’s your view on the way education is changing?
The road to a decent education is flawed it would seem. A new super highway of work-based learning and employability skills is being constructed to by-pass the log-jam of inadequate graduate and job-seeker qualifications that the existing curriculum offers.
But are we merely filling in the potholes in a skills deficit dictated by industry? Today’s Apprenticeships, Traineeships and Studio Schools are rushing headlong towards the promise of abundant employment just over the horizon.
Isn’t this a place we’ve visited before? After all our present education system was designed to meet the demands of the industrial revolution.
The difference today is that there is progression without limits. There is no speed gun to moderate our enthusiasm. The truth is there’s no single direction education can take to provide for future economies. Because we simply cannot state what those economies are going to be like. In other words no one can predict for certain where our destination lies.
Striking the right balance between short-term employment needs and the provision of a ‘real’ education that recognises and nourishes individual talent is never going to be easy to achieve. How can there be a more stimulating curriculum with greater learner choice when career paths are being fashioned by the jobs vacant columns?
The answer may lie within the very stuff that we’re mending the road with. Technology. If we harness its power to criss-cross the multiplicity of choice within the curriculum and be driven by visionary teaching methods a truly individual education can be offered. Giving power to the learner. We’re already a long way down the road to online and distance learning. Next we could have virtual work experience. Cross border classrooms. Opportunities for learners to progress outside a curriculum contained within the four walls of a classroom.
It’s worth bearing in mind that today’s learners are ‘digital natives’, far more comfortable with an online world than their educators. Encouraging learners to assume more responsibility for their own education might be just the thing to enable talent to flourish and creativity to be given equal weight to literacy.
The solution might not be as radical as the Sudbury curriculum model (though this has been providing excellent results since 1968) but a consideration of what’s best for our learners’ futures should be at least as important as what’s best for the system.
So are we heading for anarchy? After all society does need some ‘rules of the road’ surely. It’s a debate that will run and run. In the meantime we should try to open up as many new roads as possible and not just fill in the potholes in the existing ones.
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