Corporate leaders aren’t the only ones who need to consider how to adjust to the new world the 4th Industrial Revolution is ushering in. Educators, schools, government officials, and parents must re-think education and how to prepare the next generation to take advantage of the plethora of opportunities and overcome the challenges enabled by ever-increasing technological change. Here are some of the changes happening because of the 4th Industrial Revolution and eight things every school must do to prepare for the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The 4th Industrial Revolution
The 4th Industrial Revolution will dramatically change the way we relate to one another, live, work, and educate our children. These shifts are enabled by smart technologies, including artificial intelligence, big data, augmented reality, blockchain, the Internet of Things, and automation. These technologies are disrupting every industry across the world at unprecedented speed. For our children to be prepared to engage in a world alongside smart machines, they will need to be educated differently than in the past.
8 Things Every School Must Do to Prepare for the 4th Industrial Revolution
1. Redefine the purpose of education
Throughout time the purpose of education has evolved based on the needs of society during that period. It’s no different during this transition. Currently, education serves to prepare people to take on the tasks of a job or discipline to “do” something. As we move farther into the future, education will need to support children to develop the skillset and mindset to do anything in their future rather than a particular “something.”
2. Improve STEM education
STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) education needs to improve across the board regardless of income levels, age, or gender. There’s no doubt every worker in the future will need some technical skills and improvement in STEM education is warranted, but it’s important to note that we shouldn’t adopt an either/or mentality. We still need to help students understand the values that will help us learn how to use this new technology ethically and morally; therefore, humanities training and professionals will still be essential. In fact, according to The Future of Jobs Report 2018 from the World Economic Forum, executives desired employees with critical thinking and collaboration skills even more than those with tech skills.
3. Develop human potential
Even though machines are mastering many tasks typically performed by humans, people are still more adept at creative endeavours, imagination, critical thinking, social interaction, and physical dexterity. The educational system of the future needs to develop these inherent abilities in humans, so they are equipped to partner with machines in the future rather than compete with them.
4. Adapt to lifelong learning models
In his book, Future Shock, Alvin Toffler wrote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” Not only is there the reality that machines will take over jobs humans do today, according to a Dell Technologies and Institute for the Future (IFTF) report, 85 percent of the jobs in 2030 don’t exist yet. Structured education can no longer end after leaving school or college. Education must become a lifelong endeavour, and sources for education need to evolve to provide those opportunities. Attributes such as creativity, curiosity, and design-thinking will be essential for the future workforce. People will no longer start a career path and only grow with one role, so nurturing competent lifelong learners becomes essential.
5. Alter educator training
American philosopher John Dewey said, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” Even though he lived well before the beginnings of the 4th Industrial Revolution, his words are very appropriate today. Rather than teachers distilling information to students that they then memorise, teachers will become guides to help students facilitate their own learning and lines of inquiry. Failure needs to be embraced as an essential step to learning. Additionally, teaching will be much more personalised, which will be supported by bringing in technologies such as AI and machine learning.
6. Make schools makerspaces
To allow students to practise their curiosity, problem-solving skills, inquisitiveness and the iterations of failure, schools need to provide learning environments that will enable students to be creators using a wide variety of physical and digital tools. This can help equip children with the love of learning that will allow them to make sense of their world through hands-on experiences that emphasise collaboration and creativity.
7. International mindfulness
In a digital, interconnected world, employees of the future will need to have a global mindset. Schools and educators must adapt learning to take this into account. For example, history might not be taught from the perspective of one country but rather with examples from around the world; and instead of teaching the same languages that have always been taught, schools should look at international demand and the languages of emerging markets.
8. Change higher education
From how long degrees take to forging stronger ties between institutions of higher learning and industry, changes will need to be made to our post-secondary education learning to prepare students for the 4th Industrial Revolution adequately. During the 4th industrial revolution, college qualifications will become shorter and more focused, and colleges will provide more life-long education with modular post-grad qualifications throughout the working lives of individuals. This will also impact how earlier education levels will need to modify their college preparatory classes. For example, it is essential that the seeds for this type of learning are set in schools by offering students the opportunity to learn topics beyond their core curriculum and develop a love for learning.