After class last week, Alec asked us to write a post expressing our thoughts the generational, cultural, and societal changes that may be ahead in education. These were some of the guiding questions given to us to ponder:
- Do schools really need to change? If so, in what ways?
- What sort of world are we preparing students for?
- What sort of education or education system will be needed to adequately prepare students for the world ahead?
- Is it possible to change our educational system, or is it more likely that the system will be replaced by other forms of education?
Present Day Schooling
Our discussions in class Tuesday regarding generational and societal changes really got me thinking back to when I was in school, as well as the stories I have heard from my parents and grandparents when they were in school. In reality, not that much has changed over the last 50 years in regards to school. School is still viewed as a mechanism for “preparing students to enter the workforce.” Students assemble in a building where their schedule is dictated by a bell and a provincially designed curriculum. (Although the curriculums have been renewed and redesigned over the years, a large chunk of time is still devoted to math, reading, writing, and sciences. There is little time left for the arts, physical education, or the instruction of second or third languages). These students are then assessed on this curriculum in order to indicate whether they have successfully “learned” the content and thus are ready to proceed in the world. (This is especially true with the influence that marks in secondary schooling can have on programs students may possibly be able to attend after graduation).
All in all, we are still following this same format. Yes, there have been quite a few changes over the years such as the integration of technology, the switch at elementary levels to outcome based assessments, the attempted undoing of the white-washed curriculums, the inclusion of social justice practices and discussions, and the adaptations to student needs (etc… I could go on for awhile). However, schools have not evolved enough to keep up with the changes that have been happening, or are still to come.
What Sort of World Should We Be Preparing Students For?
I believe that we are currently preparing students for a world that no longer exists. This format of education and the societal expectations that have not changed in decades are not enabling us to prepare students for the world that is emerging. We are entering a time of intense social change. Students do not only need skills such as reading, writing, and math- they are not enough anymore. With the rise in social media and technological exposure, students need skills that are adaptable. Davies, Findler, and Gorbis present 10 skills for the future workforce that I find to be very relevant:
What Sort of Education System Will Be Needed?
This is a question that is very difficult to answer. Obviously, if thing were perfect in education currently there would be no issues now, which is not the case. I don’t think that there is one single correct answer to how we can change the education system. With how our system is set up, we would pretty much need to start from scratch in order to rebuild the system in a new way. This is not really possible considering the politics surrounding education. A few things that I think may be possible to help students attain these skills are:
- Adequate funding from the provincial government to help meet student needs
- Caps on class sizes so teachers can spend more time focusing on instructing students and help them learn rather than dealing with behaviors
- Renewed curriculum focusing on skills rather than subjects (this could also include more project based/student lead learning)
- Alternatively, if current curriculums are kept, students should be grouped based off of skill levels and not just age. This would allow the students who are at/above an expected skill level to feel adequately challenged & the students who are below an expected level to feel like they are not behind in everything.
- Stronger focus on digital citizenship and the skills that students need to develop in order to do things such as engage in online activity safely and make informed decisions regarding information shared online (ex. is this fake news or not?)
Overall, the future of schools seems to be headed in the same direction it has been going for decades. I do not foresee a great shift in the general formatting of “schools”. However, there are individual teachers who are doing their best to follow these expectations while also meeting students where they are at, and attempting to prepare them for what they believe is coming.
7 thoughts on “The Future of Schools”
I really like the infographic of “10 Skills for the Future Workforce.” The skills are diverse and relevant. In what ways do you, or our fellow readers, think we can begin to lay the groundwork within elementary and middle years for developing these skills?
Unfortunately, I too do not see a huge physical change in the structure of schools here in Saskatchewan. I think that the main policymakers and influencers are people that have been long since removed from the elementary and secondary schooling environments. I too think that there are individuals out there, and some schools, that are trying to make ripples in the waters, but as a whole, I don’t see it changing a lot either. Maybe that’s a pessimistic view, but in quite a conservative province, I can’t see that changing a whole heck of a lot. Thanks for including that infographic, it wasn’t one that I had seen before.
I agree with your statements. I don’t see much change occurring either – at least anytime soon.
Excellent post! I love the infographic you included, because I think that it could be very applicable to students everywhere in Saskatchewan. It allows for a wide range of interpretation and encourages success for all. I also like that you made some great suggestions on ways to change schools. I wish it could be that easy! Thanks for your thoughts!
The infographic explains everything. As we are becoming more technology oriented, we have become less focused for our health. Kids these day love to play video games rather than going outside of their home. Schools are bringing technology in education but one can not forget the traditional ways of teaching.
I agree. However, I do work at a school that has a no phone policy during the day (it is great!). We do have computers or ipads, depending on grade, that teachers can book out to use with their students. They aren’t always easy to get- I have the impression that perhaps we have less technology access and usage than other schools, but I find it to be a good balance.
Great post, Brittney! I found myself going “Yes!” out loud several times to your practical, realistic suggestions to improve education. I am an eternal optimist, so I struggle with reading some of the posts that state they don’t see education changing all that much in the future. I guess I don’t know if things will change or not, but I sure hope that they do and am willing to do my part to help create positive change in the field as a whole.