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When Will Education Catch Up With The Times?

May 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Education, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

( If you’ve spent any time following the folk of Silicon Valley, a couple of bugbears come up over and over again. One is that the government is regulating everything to death and innovation is harder than ever. The other is that education is an industry that seems immune to technological disruption.

But why? For a long time now, we’ve heard about the future of education. We were supposed to have virtual classrooms and free educational material for the masses all a finger click away. Yet that hasn’t happened. In fact, in spite of all the technology now available, a change in the way we do education isn’t even on the table. It’s as if the whole world is passing education by, and education isn’t batting an eyelid.

This seems rather strange when you think about it. How cSOAR 1Aug09 Photographer Danny Meyerould an entire industry just ignore what’s going on in the wider world and carry on doing things the way they’ve always been done? Well, for education for those under the age of 16, it’s government. The government sets the parameters of the industry, and the government won’t allow it to change. It’s stuck in a time warp. And until there is political movement on the issue, we’re unlikely to see change.

The Uncertain Future

Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles is to be found in explaining to people why we need a revamped education system. It’s not just that our current education system denies millions of children basic literacy and numeracy. It also denies them the skills that they’ll actually need in the future if they want to be successful.

Right now we live in a world where academic disciplines are given priority over practically every other field of endeavor. In fact, anywhere you go in the world there’s a similar hierarchy of learning. Right at the top are maths and science. Under that it’s the humanities, then art subjects, and then below them, physical education. You can forget extra-curricular activities, like entrepreneurship or computer networking. Apparently they’re totally unimportant.

But this hierarchy is the opposite of what is actually important. It’s upside down and needs to be turned on its head.

Despite The Gloom, There Is Progress

Outside of mainstream schooling, we are seeing progress. Once people reach adulthood, the world of learning start opening up in helpful ways. You can train to become a computer networking specialist, for instance. And you can do something that is directly relevant to your vocation.

Then, of course, there is a whole host of other industry-specific qualifications you can apply for. These often take the form of so-called micro-qualifications. They demonstrate to employers that you have a specific skill.

But are these enough to allow education to catch up? So far, they’re doing a good job of remedying the problems lower down the educational chain. But because they can’t influence children early on, their impact will always be undermined.

Ultimately, education probably won’t change. Too many special interest groups are invested in the status quo. Instead, businesses will continue to work around the education system we have right now, innovating at the edges.

Staff Writer; Jerry Moore

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