Updated: Jul 25, 2020
Are students, teachers, schools and communities having rich discussions about how the world of work is fundamentally changing? Are they critically exploring what this means for our students and how they learn? Today we are starting this discussion by looking at four factors that share how work and learning is being transformed:
1. The rise of the artisan and craft economy.
2. How artificial intelligence is becoming indispensable in the modern workplace.
3. How Sweden's youth are making money and transforming the music industry thanks to investment in music education and access to technology .
4. Why play is serious learning, and how it's critically important in developing lifelong skills for success.
To start, we have two related articles via 1843magazine and Bloomberg, both looking at the artisans and craft makers leaving traditional professions and making businesses out of their passions. The first article from 1843magazine argues that these new pathways of pickle makers, bakers and brewers may be an answer to the challenge of automation and job loss in the near future. Artisans charge a premium price for a premium product, generally live well, tend to be business savvy and carve out niches for themselves that are impossible for machines to fill.
Bloomberg goes a step further, looking at craft brewing as a possible pathway to middle-class wealth, which is an ever-decreasing probability for many.
Do our students understand that these pathways exist? Are they exploring emerging trends around the future of work, and having critical discussions about learning and identifying the skills they need? If not, why not?
Our next article from Futurism looks at how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming indispensable in the modern workplace, with its application already widespread in law, business administration and medicine. The scope and use of AI will accelerate, and within a decade it is likely that there will not be an industry or profession that has not been disrupted in some way, shape or form by it.
The potential for the use of AI appears to be almost limitless, and the disruptive effects it will have on business and work cannot be overstated. Futurism had exclusive access to the recent World Government Summit in Dubai, attended by some of the world's leading governments, businesses, thinkers and technologists. The agreement from this meeting is that AI should augment human capability, and that a roadmap or plan for doing so should should be shared and in place.
From a learning perspective, are students in schools having discussions about this transformation that will affect every single one of them? Are they engaging critically with potential benefits and pitfalls? Are they identifying possible future opportunities? Do they have the opportunity to become informed about what knowledge, skills and attitudes they will need?
We have some new learning via The Exponential View next, about how Sweden has become a global music powerhouse through investment in music education in schools. Music support for students includes hundreds of hours of subsidised music classes, more subsidies for further specialisation, music streams in schools and music subsidies in adult education to name a few. As one student says "We can afford to make mistakes and experiment ... You can afford to find yourself, and your own expression, without having any pressure, money-wise."
The result of this investment is serious development of talent, sharing of knowledge and growth of a huge business that is global in its reach. The world's leading artists now record in Sweden, and music is becoming a legitimate and accessible pathway to success for many. All that students need is a laptop, a microphone, a cupboard to record in and an Internet connection to reach their audience. Powerful stuff.
And finally we explore why the benefits of children, even older students, learning through play are becoming ever more apparent, to the point where it should be considered a fundamental right for every person. Through play, young and old learn to organise, collaborate, lead and innovate, developing lifelong skills for success not only for the individual, but the societies in which they inhabit. However, research shared via the World Economic Forum indicates that over-scheduling of children's free time and overuse of technology are contributing to the majority children in the US spending less time playing, with less time spent outside than maximum security prisoners.
In addition, due to highly structured learning and test-based assessment, many children globally do not have the opportunity to develop fundamentally important human skills through play at school, and it may mean the difference between getting a job or not ten years from now. There appears to be a lot of resistance within learning communities to the idea of play-based learning, and that play is not something that should be taken seriously.
How can we start a conversation with our teachers, families and policy makers about how necessary play is, not only from a wellbeing perspective but for the development of fundamental skills? How do we open eyes to how work is changing, what skills will be needed, and how play develops these? How do we make system-wide change happen?
That's it for this week - please don't forget to comment on our articles and posts - we want to share ideas, critical thought and constructive feedback.