Two weeks ago I met an old schoolmate who jokingly took a jab at formal education. He said even though he finished college with a good grade 8 years ago and had since gotten a job as a banker, he feels he wouldn’t take the college option in 2017.
He added that he now feels it wasn’t worth spending 4 years getting a degree because, most socially upward, famous and successful millennials hit that pinnacle not because of a college degree but through creativity and strategic networking.
His argument rests on the fact that he studied English language but now works as a financial officer at a bank. He took his argument further to explain how the proliferation of digital tools and the internet have made learning, entrepreneurship and the strategic amplification of “self” easier.
According to him, it is now easier to succeed without formal education by productively using the tools and opportunities available in today’s world. Even Mark Zuckerberg dropped out from Harvard, became super-successful and came back years later to get a degree was what my dear friend ended his rant with.
As much as I agree with his argument, I believe knowledge, acquired through whatever form, will remain a vital element in the path for success. However, pedagogically, we can initiate a lot into our education system by staying in sync with the “now”, with the sole purpose of educating the future breeds of individuals to take up new challenges and improve upon existing achievements.
Let’s face it, the world has changed. Therefore, the quality and content of conventional education must be tweaked as we move on. Also, the responsibility of parents and teachers must be redefined.
What should we pay attention to? Well from my perspective, a few things readily come to mind. The first rests on parenting. Parents should be more aware of what is attainable in our world today. Understanding the challenges our world face and the myriad opportunities possible to solve these challenges will give parents a wider perspective on how not to force a career path down their children’s throat as is often the case.
Parental direction will remain golden. But attention must be paid in order to nudge kids towards their passion rather than sternly pointing them to a dream of becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. Not that those career paths are no longer needed or profitable but parents need to understand how much more they let their kid’s miss out on by narrowing their career options to just the conventional.
It is also important for parents to breed their kids as problem solvers rather than continuously putting them under pressure to “cram” solutions and make good grades. Let’s face it; cramming is how kids start to acquire knowledge.
But we should understand that if we put too much premium on just that, they end up seeing that as the only measurement for academic success. Especially seeing how some parents rig the school system just so their kids will take home the 1st to 3rd position in class just so as to have something to brag about over lunch. Lots of parents basically write their kid’s assignments for them rather than try to take them through it.
Also, with the wide usage of internet-enabled smartphones, one can only get kids off the internet for so long. Rather, parents should get to nudge their kids towards productive usage of smartphones and the internet. It is a fact that majority of the problems these kids will face growing up, as well as the solutions to those problems, is on the internet.
Parents should also be aware that kids can be bullied, scammed and even harmed on the internet. It is therefore pertinent to take them through some pivotal elements of digital civility so as to equip them to stay safe online while using their access productively.
Strategic selection of schools is also a responsibility that parents need to reassess. The choice of school to enroll kids is now something that needs to be deliberately done while taking into cognizance the skills exhibited by children at home. Selecting schools with good curricular and helpful facilities will help to further nurture such skills kids already exhibit.
Are you one of those parents who still wonder why your kids need to stay in school from 8.30am till 4pm every day? Well, you are not alone. Lots of parents are now paying attention to the quality of content being dished out to their kids in school. Many have even taken the homeschool option with curricular carefully selected to suit their kids’ skills and interests. As a parent, do what works for your kids but pay attention latest pedagogies.
Source: Center for Universal Education at BROOKINGS / Skills for a Changing World
Concerning school teachers, they must now see themselves as not just “teachers” but facilitators of knowledge; and dreams. Teaching, in its traditional sense, has changed in many climes. The responsibility of a teacher to teach concepts, define words, show data etc during the elementary stage of a child’s growth, as vital as these are, is now insufficient in the world we live in.
Beyond being professionals in their respective fields, teachers must become more aware of the new pedagogy of learning and knowledge grading. They must be able to mesh the skills, strengths, and weaknesses they see in the classroom with the possibilities and growth hacks they can find outside the classrooms to better nurture school kids.
Of course, this means accessing great teaching contents on the internet and participating in scholarly discussions, amongst other things.
Schools have a big role to play as well in providing the needed resources and tools. It is important to continue to raise the bar so as to be at par with the new world. For example, I am aware lots of schools already give coding classes to kids as young as 8. Other schools, and even parents, already teach their kids through “gamification”.
Schools taking up such extracurricular options must be commended as such digital knowledge remains one of the most impactful in our ecosystem today. Taking kids through the possibilities in our world through knowledge-based games and digital tools helps to expand their worldview at a tender age.
The power of the outdoors should also not be played down. Growing up, most of us had mad fun climbing trees and taking long walks and exploring our environment while learning and unlearning, all by ourselves. It was such a great feeling having such freedom to explore adventures. The world has changed a lot since then. City kids have little or no opportunity to go through that process.
Parents and institutions could encourage such adventures, even if in controlled environments. Beyond keeping the kids indoors with study times and homework deadlines, outdoor education is vital to growth.
A major study by Play England, part of the National Children’s Bureau, actually found that parents harm their kids when they “wrap them up in a cotton wool” away from “risky plays” and outdoor adventures. Generally, it is important to take note of how fast our world is changing. Schools with newer, more contextual curriculum will achieve the objective of producing great minds who are ready to not only take on the complexities of the new world but also impact it.