It is near impossible to quantify what technologies will exist in the future or to predict how we as a society will exist. It is therefore necessary to prepare ourselves and future generations as best we can for this unfathomable future. In order to do this, we must turn our attention to education.
It is not uncommon to hear millennials lamenting that their education has failed to provide them with life skills. And they aren’t entirely incorrect. The current curriculum draws from Victorian European education. Such a system produced workers, of whom were required 3 key skills: “They must have good handwriting…they must be able to read, and they must be able to do [mathematics] in their head” (Mitra, S. 2014). However these skills, aside from the ability to read, are no longer a priority or even a requisite for success.
With the probability that majority of current Kindergarten students will enter into careers which do not yet exist, we must aim to foster skills which equip people for 21st Century work. The primary schooling system as I experienced it was significantly behind the times in terms of contemporary technologies. In order to gain an insight into the current learning environment I conducted an interview with my mother, a primary school teacher. In her opinion there has been a “shift in education recently that’s moving children toward becoming 21st Century learners” (J. Curran, pers. comms., 17 October). It is her belief that this change in the curriculum is not only oriented toward Information Technologies, but also toward more practical and crucial skills such as problem solving and collaboration. A concern for the importance of fostering contemporary skills is raised by Sugata Mitra in his TED Talk, ‘Build a School in the Cloud.’
From my experience of recently participating in the HSC, I have observed that rather than assessing skill and intelligence, such examinations test memory and recall. There needs to be an overhaul in the way we monitor and assess the abilities and aptitude of children. This sentiment is reflected by Mitra in his TED Talk.
One concern expressed by my mother is that due to the fast-paced nature of the development of technologies, at times there may be a disconnect between the knowledge that children possess around technology and that of some of their teachers and parents (J. Curran, pers. comms., 17 October). I believe that in order for teachers to sufficiently administer and monitor student learning in a technological age, they must become competent with contemporary technologies.
However my mother’s outlook is optimistic. With emerging technologies such as interactive whiteboards, students can now connect to rural and international students, as well as organisations such as NASA. As my mother suggests, we are “not there yet in all schools, but there are positive changes in the right direction” (J. Curran, pers. comms., 17 October).
It is important to create a learning environment that equips our young people with the skills to become proficient in the pioneering and brokering of new ideas. After all, these are the people who will design the next ground-breaking technology, cure cancer and inhabit Mars; of this we are certain.
Curran, J. 2014, pers. comms., interview, 17 October 2014
Lindl, J. 2013, Can games create an education fit for the future?, video recording, BBC, viewed 17 October 2014,
Mitra, S. 2013, Build a School in the Cloud, video recording, TED, viewed 17 October 2014, <http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud#t-1309251>