We have plunged deep into a time of change. We have changed the way we have fun, interact, work, consume, obtain information, learn, educate…. educate? Some doubts arise here: Are we really changing teaching methods? How are we educating our youth? Towards which future are we guiding them? What skills and competencies shall we train them?
Nobody has a crystal ball that shows the future. We study and analyze situations, contexts, methodologies, tools… to determine how we are solving the problems of our time and those that are to come. This is the essence of society but now spiced with an element that revolutionizes it all: the incorporation of information technology to almost all areas of our life. In our ability to analyze the present and the future lie our opportunities to move forward as a society and as individuals. This coupled with our ability to adapt and change are our best chance of success as a species.
“Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world” Nelson Mandela said. And to shape the future, I might add. It is important at this time of acceleration and change to ask ourselves these questions: Are we training our young people properly for this reality of constant change? Are we ready for a world strongly influenced by technology and the massive flow of information? Not in my opinion, at least not yet, although we can see some changes happening.
Current education should encourage students to acquire skills to meet tomorrow´s challenges: interpersonal skills and social skills. The methodologies, professionals and tools at the service of education must be reoriented to train kids in the skills and values that are already being required and in those we envision will be required in the near future . We are becoming aware that we must get ready for a changing world, train our youth to manage a continuously changing reality so that this does not become a future problem.
In essence, what makes us human, the ability to understand and work with each other is the basis of evolution success.
Technology is only a tool that drives this continuous changing model and helps us manage it, provided we use it properly.
From our position as creators of educational contents, such reflections should be the foundation of the why and how in the development of products and tools. No doubt all actors which intervene in the educational process (teachers, managers, politicians, publishers, etc) have the obligation to know and stay updated on the social, cultural, technological, scientific, educational tendencies… which move, condition and determine the present and future of society. And this constantly updated information plus our capacity for analysis and reaction must determine our policies, objectives and educational activities.
But in this current technological world which information and knowledge are within reach of a click of the students, in which certainty and falsity flows through the web… what are the skills that will enable today’s children to become better citizens tomorrow? In which direction should education in our time be reoriented? This is our summary:
- Preserve children’s innate curiosity. Learning curriculum content must make sense to the students. Clear and stimulating relationships between these contents and the real world, or the fantasy one enjoyed by children, should be established. Knowledge is fascinating!
- Encourage the formulation of questions and train students the skills to find answers – versus the traditional structure which pour out all the information into the child to be memorized.
- Encourage critical thinking. The search for answers involves children in a reflection about the information they manage. The development of this skill is vital in a society overwhelmed by the flow of not verified information.
- Enable creative skills. Working with projects in which children must propose solutions, and work processes based on the tools and information students have and can acquire.
- Foster collaboration and social values through games, experiments or projects in which the contribution of individual skills add to the common good.
- Encourage the necessary communication skills to share and collaborate, both through traditional and the new digital channels.
These skills should have a clear mainstreaming with values education, giving children the basic principles to live in societies where collaboration, versus competition, will be a core value. Solidarity, respect for others and respect for the environment are basic principles that children should learn and have present in their personal and professional future.
Only educating in a different way will let us have citizens and professionals who act different in the future, and who have enough resources to cope with the challenges of the century we live in.