What Is Education Revolution?
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.” (Oscar Wilde).
This is the core of Greek learning or “paideia”. The goal of education is not mastery of subject matter, but of one’s person.
We have lost the purpose of education in favour of trying to turn people into “subject matter experts” with no understanding of how to use the knowledge that they have gained. Whatever knowledge they gain goes quickly out of date, anyway!
The present education system fails because it continues to focus on practices that served well in the industrial model but are now obsolete.
Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning, with a misguided assumption that whatever a teacher teaches, a student will learn.
Subjects are taught in isolation, where teachers focus on the outcomes they have to “teach” their students. There is little regard for the rest of the curriculum and the nature of true learning or the skills needed in life now known as Transversal Competencies. The focus is on how to pass the exam, which can be gamified by intelligent teachers and students.
Coupled with this is the misnomer that “the really important learning” can only happen in a classroom with a teacher. What about all of the learning that happens before and after school, outside of the school setting without a teacher being present?
Do we not learn from the day we are born until the day we die? Far too much importance and emphasis is placed on the value of formal learning (taught by a teacher), and not enough on informal and experiential learning (where the teacher is life itself).
‘There are many different ways of learning; teaching is only one of them. We learn a great deal on our own, in independent study or play. We learn a great deal interacting with others informally — sharing what we are learning with others and vice versa. We learn a great deal by doing, through trial and error.’ (Barr and Tagg, From Teaching to Learning, https://www.colorado.edu/ftep/sites/default/files/attached-files/barrandtaggfromteachingtolearning.pdf)
While the national curriculum is designed to articulate learning outcomes that students should achieve, it has been repositioned more as a guide for “what teachers should teach”.
The true nature of learning and an emphasis on capturing the learning journey of students has been ignored in favour of compartmentalising learning into subject silos. This has been done in order to create an expedient way to manage curriculum delivery and capture ‘evidence’ that the curriculum is ‘working’.
The Education Revolution is often referred to as Education 3.0 (the third phase of education), which tries to remedy these problems.
Why Is It Not Working?
The 4th Industrial Revolution is acting on the job-market and businesses, and is driving them faster and faster.
The effect is that people have to change skills and competencies faster, and we all need to learn continuously throughout all of our lives.
There is a growing recognition that there is a difference between transferable competencies or Transversal Competencie and subject matter knowledge, which is not transferable.
These Transversal Competencies are not taught in formal learning and, though they might be acquired, are also not measured. Yet, these are the competencies that employers are seeking to find and measure.
So, there is an imbalance between the supply of skills to the workplace and the requirements of the workplace.
There is a recognised gap between the skills being taught through formal education and those required by companies. Aspects of this issue include:
- Formal Education not keeping up with the rate of change of required skills and competencies
- Degrees and certification not guaranteeing jobs
- The ageing workforce (and later retirement age) requiring older employees to be retrained to keep them relevant and valuable in the workplace
- Companies creating their own training opportunities for employees rather than looking to formal educational institutions.
- Regardless of the causes and impact of the skills gap the key solution is to re-envision learning and embrace the imperative for developing a culture of lifelong learning (both within formal education and the workplace) where the learning takes many forms (including formal, informal, incidental and workplace-based)
- The cost of global education is in excess of $4.4 trillion and increasing
- Teachers are leaving the profession at an unprecedented rate and UNESCO estimates that 69 million more teachers will be needed in the near future.
The result of this disconnection is The Skills Gap which costs trillions of dollars in economic damage each year.
What Is Needed?
We need to:
- Connect the supply of skills and competencies to the workplace with the demand from the workplace;
- Enable students to acquire Transversal Competencies;
- Reduce the cost of formal learning;
- Measure the competencies acquired informally;
- Deconstruct formal learning certification so that all of the stakeholders can understand the skills at a micro-level;
- Allow learners to own their own content and learning;
- Make learning free for all or at least available globally at a low cost;
- Reduce the workload on teachers;
- Make assessment better;
- Create a global competency index in The Blockchain
How Can We Change It?
We need to:
- Create a common competency currency and be able to measure it;
- Measure informal learning and all other types of learning;
- Reduce formal learning costs by automating assessment and the production of content so that learning paths can be individual;
- Allow teachers to motivate and be creative, and not be tied up in mundane repetitive processes;
- Create an understanding of mastery competencies or Transversal Competencies;
- Make Subject matter content separate from competencies;
- Link all the stakeholders in the process from learning to employment, into a continuous process;
- Focus on the person, how they think and what they can do, not only for an organisation but for themselves and the world.
So what is the problem?
The barriers to change are many and vested and we need to:
- Overcome vested interests in education, which is a $4.4 trillion business and it offers livelihoods for many people who do not want to give up the status quo;
- Change assessment, which is too linear and the thinking to assess in a different way means changing the whole system;
- Aid teachers who cannot see how to think differently even though they have a strong grip of the problem;
- Produce a radical change in the funding model in order to break the deadlock;
- Show businesses which are searching for an answer to The Skills Gap that it can be solved in other ways, rather than confusing learning and education, and asking education to solve a problem it cannot resolve;
- Create a new system for funding learning outside education, but still be able to retrospectively include enlightened educators who wish to adopt a new model;
- Set up assessment and courses to meet the needs of industry and business;
- Offer an alternative to a government-funded education model and the existing private sector model, which is just a better funded public sector model!