What would happen if we could talk to somebody from the early 1900s and try to explain what the work force looks like today? In the same way, we’d probably struggle to understand a regular work day in the second half of this century.
So how do Connected Schools go about preparing students for an unknown future? One example is the use of space in schools. Learning spaces look very different in schools today than they did even 10 years ago (both inside and outside), and the way teachers operate in these environments has also changed significantly. But we need to keep reminding ourselves why we started down this path; we are igniting the future of our students.
Recently, the discussion about paradigm shifts in education and preparing students for high-tech futures has come more into the mainstream. It wasn’t that long ago that it felt like this was a debate that needed to be won but now it feels like nearly all stakeholders in education can see the writing on the wall. A report by the National Broadband Network and the Regional Australia Institute late last year found that 50 per cent of Australian jobs will require high-level digital skills, including coding, by 2030. (‘Kids crack the code to workplace relevance’ Luke Michael, The Australian, May 8, 2017) This means that as most of our current Reception students are entering the work force or completing university, industries will be expecting that employees have ‘high-level digital skills’. This has huge implications for the way students are educated from a young age but it also has implications for the way students interact with, and use, technology on a daily basis.
It is important to note though that just being able to use technology is not enough. A recent survey in the United States of 1,408 people who work in technology and education, asked if they think education will successfully train workers for the future. Only two-thirds said yes. One of the questions asked was, ‘How do we educate people for an automated world?’ The summary of responses indicates… “People still need to learn skills, the respondents said, but they will do that continuously over their careers. In school, the most important thing they can learn is how to learn.” (‘How to Prepare for an Automated Future’ Claire Cain Miller, New York Times, May 3, 2017)
So how do we strike a balance between the technological skills and learning skills needed for future employment? We need to develop student abilities in social connections and collaborations, creative problem finding and solving skills and resilience, to help them adapt to a constantly changing workplace and society. So as Connected Schools we will keep challenging ourselves to ignite the future, giving our students the best skill and mind set to make the transition from the classroom to the work place of the future.
Director of Learning
St Paul Lutheran School