“Wait, What?”: Our Team’s Thoughts on The Future of Education

With so many people talking about automation, what is the future of education?

Human Acceleration

Are we all getting a bad education?

With so many people talking about automation, what is the future of education? One of our team members, Ivan Colic, shares what we talked about in a recent “Wait, What?” weekly session, where we get together to talk about anything and everything:

WNDYR is a future-focused company engaged with aspects of work and productivity – areas that have a great impact on the lives of many people around the world. Today there seems to be an increased number of dissatisfied employees globally with various facets attributing to this dissatisfaction. Our team has been investigating and discussing the role schooling and education plays in the eventual challenges many face in their working lives.

The Status of Global Education

While it’s wonderful to note that the world is the most educated its ever been, millions of students continue to learn through traditional schooling methods dating back to the 19th century.

According to an article in Future Crunch, about half of the world’s kids attended some form of schooling in the 1970’s. Today, that number is 9 out of 10, with literacy in younger generations nearing 100%. The quality of education young girls receive is improving too – millions will become empowered women who are able to invest and grow their communities.

Naturally, with progress comes obstacles. And the biggest? The manner in which we guide students out of the exam focused schools into a world of work which has changed dramatically since school systems were initially designed.

If we fail to do so, yet another generation of students will share the same frustrations of unfulfilling work.

The Future of Global Education

So why then has education remained static when technology, society and work have continued to evolve? Why are too many years spent learning to give the right answers instead of learning to ask the right questions?

The simple answer is societal pressure to use education as a means to secure future financial security. Yet experts predict that large scale implementation of AI automation will put hundreds of thousands of people out of work within a few years. The threat is so serious that solutions that were unimaginable a few years ago are currently being considered. Universal Income Protection, a system where governments pay their citizens a monthly fixed income has been supported by U.S. President Obama and was nearly adopted in a Swiss referendum earlier this year.

The Solution: A Human Approach

Our obligation then must be towards a future where students learn how to be the best “human” possible. Happily, some promising alternative schooling models are popping up around the world to ensure this:

  • 42 is a teacherless French school where students learn to deal with complexity on their own. The ultimate lesson is to understand that there is not one right answer in decision making, just different shades of how correct you might be
  • Bridge International Academies teaches over 100 000 students in 400 schools across Africa with the use of smart tablets and phones
  • In June this year, the US State Department partnered with online education platform Coursera to allow refugees from around the world to take all its courses for free and get certification
  • Northern European schools are experimenting with outdoor education; focusing on craftsmanship, community services and outdoor activities with an emphasis on collaborative learning

The Way Forward: Maximising Humanness

While some may dismiss these examples as small unorthodox experiments, its worth noting that Finnish students, where these principles have been broadly applied for years, are consistently placed at the top of international rankings.

These approaches focus on improving communication, confidence, character and resilience; essential human skill-sets that will maximise “human-ness”. By producing students imbued with these qualities, rather than exam and standardised test obsessed learning machines, many will hopefully get to live in a world where work too, becomes more human.

What are your thoughts on the future of education, and how it will be affected by automation? Share what you think in the comments below.

Interested in learning more about technology and our approach to education in the future? Get in touch with us to set up a call, and follow us on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook for more updates.

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