How we are adapting to the global shift in education

Jul 10, 2020 | News

It is our view that education systems continue to show great inertia to change and are still largely fixed on developing learners with a focus on knowledge acquisition.  We argue that whilst people talk about the soft skills that are needed there is still not enough attention or investment into developing the capacity for change in behaviour that society and the world of work need.

The McKinsey report into ‘How the World’s best-performing school systems come out on top’ states that investing in teachers is what matters most if you wish to improve student outcomes and performance.

At the heart of this, is how through changing behaviours, implementing Point of Learning assessment systems to capture this change, together with the development of communities of practice we can unlock the potential in citizens and create truly Smart Nations.

Over our next few blogs, we will investigate how education can reinvent itself to not only meet the needs of current and future learners, but also contribute to the global shift in the requirements of education.

“In the future you will NOT get paid for what you know but HOW you apply what you know.”

Andreas Schleicher, OECD

The situation education finds itself varies  around the world with some countries fixated on a government agenda to drive standards based on knowledge and endless testing and other countries trying their best to raise the standard of teaching and at the same time reducing the content in the curriculum and introducing more learner based pedagogies at the same time.

If you believe OECD’s Schleicher then education systems need to ask themselves a very simple question, ‘Does our education provide students with the facilitation and environment to apply learning as well as gain knowledge’?  And in much the same way, ‘Do our teachers have the skills and knowledge alongside their professional behaviours to facilitate learning, rather than solely impart knowledge?

These may appear fairly simple questions at first, but global education has long been established to provide students with a fact-based knowledge education which relies on ‘one-off’ testing of their ability to recall.  Worse, testing tends not to inform future learning as John Collick said, it’s like having a sat nav that tells you where you are, nowhere to go.

The truth is that the foundations of all education systems do not reflect the demands of the modern world, they are formulaic and ‘formal’ in their practice.  They are standards driven, and therefore narrow in their aims and values; and in a time where creativity, critical thinking, and complex problem solving are viewed as three of the most important skills in business, many theorists believe education in its current format not only suppresses these, but kills them off.

In recent years, a global narrative has emerged around the kinds of competences people need in order to play a successful role within the workplace and maintain a personal sense of wellbeing.

The demands for know-how, know what, know-why and know-who over the past few hundred years.  Knowing how to plant seeds, for example was a critical skill in the agricultural society and the others weren’t that necessary.  But production line schooling satisfied the needs of the booming industrial society and set the benchmark for the curriculum and systems which continue to provide the foundation of education today.   Miller shows that although knowledge has become commoditised, it still has a base function in society; however because the world is more complex and demands solutions to non-routine problems, the capacity to know-who is increasingly core to future growth and development. we need to understand it is unlikely that one person will understand every aspect of a system and will have to know other people and learn to work in a team.  The days of lone working are over.

Moreover, given the recent Covid-19 pandemic, education systems should aim to recover but not replicate the past – given that in many countries, the pre-COVID status quo was already characterized by too little learning, high levels of inequality, and slow progress.

Countries now have an opportunity to “build back better”: they can use the most effective crisis-recovery strategies as the basis for long-term improvements in areas like assessment, pedagogy, technology, financing, and parental involvement.