It is increasingly important for us to examine how education systems around the world are preparing young people for this age of extraordinary new opportunities, an increasing number of perils, a bewildering amount of information and a series of troubling moral dilemmas.
- Politicians tap into disaffection with globalisation through increasingly extreme ‘post-truth’ politics. The internet is filled with reservoirs of eye-opening information but also with news that could be real or fake.
- The 100-Year Life, a new study by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott (2016), makes clear that, with people living so much longer, an education weighted to the start of life will not be sufficient: it will need to be topped up at regular intervals, changing the way we see learning.
- Human ingenuity and destruction screams at us from the media: ‘World’s first baby born with three parents’; ‘Most advanced AI robot admits it wants to destroy humans’; ‘230 million migrants worldwide’; ‘Disasters linked to climate change increase risk of war’.
While there is huge uncertainty about the future, the sorts of skills and attributes that are going to be in ever-greater demand are becoming clearer: communication and interpersonal skills, problem-solving and idea generation, collaboration and networking, analysis and synthesis, creativity and agility – all underpinned by the need for a strong moral compass in situations of greater complexity and ambiguity. It is also clear that a foundation of high levels of literacy and numeracy are essential, and expertise in science, maths, computing and design will be highly prized.
A truly successful approach to education in the 21st century will involve greater flexibility within the UK schools system and a broader curriculum. It must demonstrate a new vision of a 21st century teacher, and start to focus on the growth of the whole child through a much broader curriculum.
This piece will form part of a forthcoming edited collection of essays on the future of education, to be published here by IPPR later this year.
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