The FINANCIAL -- Learning has come a long way since Renaissance Italy, but educators and administrators still face the same concerns in equipping students from school to university for the world of work; except today’s world is faster and more automated, with flexible patterns of employment.
At the tender age of 87, Michelangelo said “I am still learning”, making him a poster child for lifelong education.
Survey highlights need for curriculum shake-up
Many education stakeholders are calling for a shake-up of organisation and curriculum to meet 21st-century needs. In a recent Australian Future of Education survey, undertaken by Real Insurance, 42 per cent of respondents said the current school curriculum is inadequate, 23.2 per cent said basic literacy is lacking and 30 per cent are not confident children are being prepared for future jobs.
The survey concluded that few Australian parents are confident in the school curriculum and worry about how well the education system aligns with the needs of future workplaces, according to HBS.
Those surveyed also indicated discomfort with the adoption of virtual classes or teachers. Garry Falloon, professor of digital learning at Sydney’s Macquarie University, says fears of technology taking over classrooms and the increasing role of tech in the workplace highlights the importance of balance. “It’s not an either-or scenario,” he says. “It’s about blending technology with the right curriculum design.”
Education is slow on the technological uptake
It is also about place. Classrooms today look very similar to the classrooms pupils’ parents learnt in, but with some new tech added. Joe Williams, executive director of America’s Democrats for Education Reform, says: “With some exciting exceptions, public [state] schools are one of the few institutions in modern life that have not seen radical changes spurred by technology.”
Yet, educators are expected to teach skills and problem-solving forjobs that don't exist for 65 per cent of the children starting school this month when they come to seek employment. As times change and market needs evolve, educational subjects come in and out of vogue, while others are threatened with abandonment.
Classics is a good example, though Jeremias Prassl, associate professor in the Faculty of Law at Oxford University and author of Humans as a Service, reminds us: “Latin is useful, it is a language. Computer programming is also a language.”
There are fears and opportunities to be explored, says Professor Prassl. “It’s not just the negative of losing jobs. The history of work tells us technology makes work more interesting, more productive. It’s not just the destruction and substitution of jobs, but the creation of new types of jobs. It’s a question of agency. The future of work is not something that happens to us; we have a say in this, whether it is as individuals or through the agency of groups,” he says.
Educators must be flexible and future-focussed
Professor Prassl, whose book examines work in the gig economy , warns of the innovation paradox, in that while innovation in the gig economy is reliant on modern technology, as far as work is concerned, it also uses a business model that is ancient.