Schools in the footsteps of the future workplace
These major global trends serve as umbrellas to a web of more focused trends, specific to contexts and/or societies. Although negating the connections and focusing on one does a disservice to the complexity of the trend, it allows some clarity and, it appears, a tad more hope.
The NMC/CoSN Horizon Report reported on the need for workforce trends to be reflected in schooling (2016). Workforce trends are influenced by many, if not most, of the aforementioned social, political and economic trends. In particular are the rise in technology and a shifting global economy. Automation and technological innovation are “poised to transform a widening array of work practices and the way people live and communicate” (NIC, 2017, p. 15). Global markets pit national economies against each other, but are at the mercy of migration. Workforce trends themselves are not easy to predict, but throughout the literature, media and hype flexibility, socially intelligent, technologically savvy, and creative are all buzzwords for the future worker/creator. It makes you reflect how committed schools are to preparing their students to be part of a future workforce.
The wave of modern learning environments is a start, but it’s a narrow aspect often bound to the physical realm. The schooling environment is far greater than new furniture, knocking out a wall and investing in one-to-one devices and a handful of robotics kits. As a whole, the existing environment promotes rigidity with bells, timetables, set learning hours, separation by subject, and age-based cohorts.
Sir Ken Robinson has promoted a change in the education paradigm for nearly a decade, one that reflects the needs of the 21st century, rather than accommodate those of the industrial age (2010). Also a decade ago, the New Zealand Curriculum promoted Key Competencies for students to develop capabilities to contribute as active members of their community, having the foresight to realise this extended far beyond ‘good grades’ (2007). But there has a been a push in our schools for just that, students making grades. Standardised testing hasn’t truly beached itself at New Zealand’s shores but initiatives such as national standards set the net. Standardisation and conformity are what Robinson (2010) advocates against. He promotes creativity, divergent thinking, multiple possibilities. These seem to be more inline with future workforce buzzwords.
One of the overarching themes the NMC/CoSN Horizon Report delivers, bolstering the idea of moulding schools in the shape of the future economy, is reimagining the environment. Leading companies are recognising the benefits of having comfortable, flexible workplaces that suit the purpose of the task. Flexible hours, working from home, collaborating or going solo, integration of technology for communication - these are all aspects that could be reflected in schools. The wave of modern learning environments is a start, but it’s a narrow aspect often bound to the physical realm. The schooling environment is far greater than new furniture, knocking out a wall and investing in one-to-one devices and a handful of robotics kits. As a whole, the existing environment promotes rigidity with bells, timetables, set learning hours, separation by subject, and age-based cohorts. A focus on academic results pushes aside the emotional and social needs of students, as well as making problem-solving, divergent thinking, creativity and critical thinking second tier. These structures need to be questioned, both in terms of purpose and the types of learners produced. Technology will inevitably become more and more integral to education, but I believe the support, systems and structures around it will be equally as important.
National Intelligence Council. (2017). Global trends: The Paradox of Progress. National Intelligence Council: US. Retrieved from https://www.dni.gov/files/images/globalTrends/documents/GT-Main-Report.pdf
New Media Consortium.(2016, September, 12).NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition.[video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=55&v=wmiLrK-nF7k
Pearson. (2013, April 26). Global trends: The world is changing faster than at any time in human history.[video file].Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdZiTQy3g1g
Robinson, K (2010) Changing education paradigms. [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms
Sturt, D. & Nordstrom, T. (2016) 3 Secrets of a best company to work for. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidsturt/2016/03/04/3-secrets-of-a-best-company-to-work-for/2/#642807763874