If someone asked a farmer a few hundred years ago what skills their kids would need to master for making a decent living, they would have answered without taking much time.
Obviously, the kids would need to learn how to milk cows, farm a field, etc. Things were simple back then, and the basic skills associated with every profession didn’t change much over time. However, it’s not the same anymore. Jobs have become increasingly volatile, and a number of jobs are disappearing as quickly as new ones are emerging.
A large portion of the credit for job changes goes to machine automation and technology. When the industrial revolution took place in the 1800s, machines replaced manual labour on a large scale. Thousands of people lost their jobs as manufacturers adopted modern production methods.
Even today software and technology is gradually eating up jobs quickly. We have software for everything- creating invoices, tracking inventory, making music, and even writing new basic software! However, new jobs are also emerging quickly. While manufacturing jobs are declining, there is a rise in new jobs such as bloggers, pro gamers, virtual assistants, content curators, etc.
Since no job is practically safe today, it begs the question: What skills can we teach the next generation so that they can protect themselves from job changes?
A number of studies have found that today’s education system is not preparing the students to succeed in the 21st century.Â Most schools and colleges follow curriculums that focus on only a few certain subjects and emphasize on specific vocational training. This approach is not well-suited to the world that’s experiencing technological acceleration and job uncertainty.
There are some schools that have added new subjects to their curriculum to equip their students for the pragmatic workplace environment. A common example of this is the teaching of coding and other programming related skills. Now, even though this addition will help the students in the short term, they will be struggling again before long. This is because technology is evolving so fast that they can’t keep pace with it. In fact, there is no telling if the coding languages and frameworks they learnt at school will be useful by the time they start a job.
Brett Schilke, director of impact and youth engagement at Singularity University said in a recent interview that it is difficult to predict what kind of careers will exist in the future. We don’t even know what kind of technology-based skills will be viable 5 or 10 years from now.
So, What Should we Teach?
If there is a model from which we can learn about a better paradigm for education, it is Finland’s phenomenon-based approach. The country is changing its education curriculum, and plans to completely replace the traditional school subjects with those focusing covering rather fundamental skills, the four Cs- Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity, and Communication.
The Cs are powerful skills that govern all kinds of careers, which is why they will prepare the students for 21st century for every challenge. Since so many jobs that exist today won’t be available tomorrow, only those who have mastered skills that are not specific to a certain industry will survive. Students who will master the Cs will remain valuable to the job industry.
Apart from the four Cs, there are a few additional soft skills that every school in the world today could incorporate in their curriculum. For instance, subjects covering grit, resiliency, and adaptability can be of insurmountable value to the students that learn from successful entrepreneurs and equip them will tools that can help them change the world for the better.Â Using these skills, they can master problem-solving, and learn how to respond to market changes.
Buenos Aires Following Finland’s Lead
Esteban Bullrich, the former Minister of Education of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires organized and led efforts to completely transform the city’s educational system. While efforts are being made to promote a direct and constructive dialogue between teachers and government officials, a major change he is believed to be brought about is in the area of promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship.
â€śI want kids to get out of school and be able to create whatever future they want to create” he said in an interview, “â€”to be able to change the world with the capabilities they earn and receive through formal schooling.â€ť
As a result of Bullrich’s efforts, the primary schools are now teaching young students how to code. As these students reach secondary school they will be required to study programming on an advanced level, along with subjects covering entrepreneurship in detail.
Bullrich believes the changes in the existing curriculum will help students get rid of the fears they have of uncertainty, and make them confident enough to think out of the box, bring innovation.
Ditching the Old Systems for New Ones
We have been following a degree-oriented approach since a long time, but it is to become ineffective soon. To think that earning an esteemed degree in any discipline, let it be in engineering or medical, is enough is a delusion. In today’s rapidly evolving world what’s required is a continuous learning approach.
To make innovative education a success we must first confront our fear of change. According to Bullrich, it is this very fear that is holding us back from achieving true greatness , and creating a world that encourages innovation and creativity.