When considering the future trends of education, there is an element of crystal ball gazing. Fifty years ago, few of us would have anticipated the likes of Latin and Classics – once essential to a reputable education – becoming redundant. Yet, if you were to enquire about them in an Australian classroom today, not only would you find they are no longer taught, but students would likely be compelled to ask you, how do they help me in real life?
This question – which any teacher will be familiar with – says something important about today’s young learners. They don’t see traditional academic subjects as indisputably valuable; they need to be useful in today’s modern world. In other words, in 2018, how would Latin help me get a job?
Many Australians feels this way. According to a recent survey, most people believe education should place a higher emphasis on practical, vocational skills. While traditional subjects are still important, many believe they are not preparing young people for the work environment they will face.
How can schools adapt?
1. Apprenticeships and industry insight
There is no easy, quick fix solution to this concern, but seeing schools create partnerships with local industries and trades is something that will likely increase in the near future. Reaching out to industry professionals would help close the skills gap that currently exists between education and employment.
2. Multi-skill education
Nevertheless, we need to think about skills as opposed to jobs. Jobs come and go more frequently than in the past. For instance, in 2016, a report found that nearly 60% of Australian students were studying for occupations where the majority were predicted to be radically altered by automation. Hence, an emphasis on multi-skilled education is essential to survive in an ever-changing job economy. While the education system can’t prepare us for this, it can place an emphasis on multi skill education to accommodate a multi career future.
Technology is rewriting the curriculum. The widespread use of wireless devices in today’s society has rendered a subject like typing meaningless; youngsters are comfortable with touch-typing at a tender age. Similarly, time is no longer taken out for students to practice their handwriting. In our increasingly paperless society, calligraphy has become a relic of the past.
To ensure schools don’t fail our youngsters, they must adapt. Intriguingly, several experts have suggested gaming could play an important role in education. Games have the ability to engage, enthral and move us, qualities which professionals believe are key to embedding knowledge. Gamification has become popular in recent years, essentially by taking what is good about games — enjoyment, drama and competition — and relating them to various real-world issues. Similarly, Game expert Jane McGonigal believes games have the power to solve real-world problems.
An education system that actively encourages gaming as a method of learning would be hugely beneficial. Games encourage us to challenge ourselves, problem solve and overcome obstacles. However, games also provide us with the opportunity to fail: an essential part of learning. From dealing with negative feelings to learning to overcome them, gaming has the ability to prepare students for life in unexpected ways.
The role of the teacher
The teacher is unlikely to disappear like Latin or Classics; rather, their role is going to evolve. Improved Internet access and wireless devices are making learning anytime, anywhere more commonplace and accessible to all. With this in mind, the teacher will likely act more like a guide, careful to point pupils in the right direction. As access to content becomes increasingly abundant, the teacher’s role will become more important than ever, steering pupils clear of fake news and misinformation.
Ultimately, technology is shaping the future in an unprecedented way. In order to equip our next generation with the tools to succeed, the education system can’t rely solely upon traditional subjects to prepare our children; it must move with technological advances. As times and technology move forward, so too must our education system.
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