Updated: Jul 25, 2020
Image: REUTERS/Mike Blake
Our first blog post is summary and short commentary of some articles that we have looked at and discussed this week. All have been chosen because they are at the intersection of learning, exponential technologies and disruptive innovation. They are important to us as teachers because they provide indicators about how work is changing, and learning also needs to change. Questions that guide our thinking are:
1. What trends are emerging in changing of work that people perform as a result of exponential technologies and disruptive innovation?
2. Which trends are likely to continue and accelerate, and how is work likely to be disrupted?
3. What knowledge, skills and competencies will people need to thrive in this new era of work?
4. What are the implications for learning?
The questions can vary, but the general theme does not. See our first post below.
In the first article, Tom Friedman shares his thoughts with the Wall Street Journal, via The Exponential View. He has identified companies both automating and augmenting human work, with the companies doing it best creating "... STEMpathy jobs - jobs that combine science, technology, engineering, and math with human empathy, the ability to connect with another human being".
He also describes his five pieces of advice for his daughters:
1. Think like an immigrant, as we're all new to this age of acceleration.
2. Think like an artisan, add your unique, personal brand to everything you do so you can never be automated or outsourced.
3. Always be in BETA - learn, unlearn and relearn constantly.
4. Curiosity quotient and passion quotient is more important than intelligence quotient.
5. Think entrepreneurially, no matter where you are and what you do. Ask yourself: How and where can I start a new business?
Do students in our schools have the opportunity to engage with and explore these ideas and opportunities? Are they finding out about how work is changing and what they'll need to prosper? If not, why not?
Our second article this week is an interesting read from Constantine Passaris, Professor of Economics at the University of New Brunswick writing for the World Economic Forum. He argues that the term 'globalisation' is essentially redundant, and should be replaced with 'Internetization', arguing that if this term is used, then "... we will acknowledge the information technology revolution that’s profoundly altered the structural parameters and the modus operandi of most national economies." The emphasis here on digital economy and human capital is important, particularly with reference to life-long learning, digital delivery of this learning and the transformation of formal education.
If the foundation of our national economies have become profoundly altered, how have (or have not) schools and learning changed as a result?
The next article we are sharing this week argues that the benefits of learning to code are overstated, with the evidence suggesting that languages currently in use may die out, and Artificial Intelligence will eventually take over the bulk of this work. Robert C. Wolcott argues that "... a singular focus on “learning to code” can impede attention to the much more important skill of understanding how technology works, and the opportunities and risks within systems and society. Fascinating.
Is learning to code simply learning about modern technology in a manner that is essentially unchanged from learning 60 years ago? Or, is it a fundamental skill in this changing technological world?
Finally, more from the World Economic Forum via The Exponential View. This article explores the rise in artificial intelligence, with WEC research highlighting the opportunities available, but also the widening gaps between those prepared and those not. Education is emphasised, asking how we can on the one hand embrace this technology and on the other create inclusive opportunities for all. Dynamic life-long learning, taking action, experimentation, collaboration, being open-minded and curious are foremost among the skills needed to thrive.
Too much learning in schools globally remains knowledge centred and teacher-driven, by design constraining or eliminating these skills in our students and not preparing them to thrive. Systemic constraints do not allow talented and passionate teachers to model these skills, nor realise their potential for their themselves as professionals or their students, and dynamic skill-based learning remains the domain of a minority in top international and private schools, gifted education and homeschool programmes.
Things need to change, and quickly.