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Education for Today, Tomorrow and Forever

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September 21, 2018

Education for Today, Tomorrow and Forever

Malcolm X an American minister and human rights activist once wrote ‘Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.’ It is a widely held axiom that every one craves for success and achievement. Education today is a forward looking enterprise concerned with ongoing gains and future benefits. If education is to remain beneficial for learners it must prepare them not for today but for their tomorrow. Let us see how:

Setting up New Global Educational Goals:

Education is the key to prosperity and opens up a world of opportunities, making it possible for each of us to contribute to a progressive, healthy society. Learning benefits every human being and should be available to all. Whether schools across the nation and abroad are tinkering with the idea of incorporating global perspectives into their schools and classrooms, or have been working hard for years to cultivate a school culture of global mindedness, all must think of working towards the same goal of ensuring that every child has an understanding of the world and global issues, a mindset that embraces diversity and multiple perspectives, and an ability to take action on issues of global significance. Here is a suggested list of global learning goals that must be directed towards future needs of the learners.

For education administrators, it is particularly important to make global opportunities available to teachers and encourage them to learn about the world. In this way, teachers will know this is a priority and can build the capacity and confidence to embed global content and perspectives into everyday practice.

Exploring Global Educational Needs:

Marcel Proust, the French novelist, observed that ‘the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new lands but in seeing with new eyes’. Over the last few decades, skill demands in the industrialized world have shown amazing changes. The steepest growth in skill demand is no longer in the area of routine cognitive skills, memorizing something and expecting that’s going to help us later in life. When we access the world’s knowledge on the internet, we see that routine skills are being digitized or outsourced. When jobs are changing rapidly success becomes increasingly about ways of thinking, that’s about creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and decision making. Nowadays, our ways of working are fast changing that include collaboration and teamwork; and about the socio-cultural tools that enable us to interact with the world.

Need to Develop Global Learning Models:

The ongoing teaching-learning process can in no way hold ground on traditional instructional models. We have moved very far from teacher-centred strategies. Tuning into the global needs, learning needs to be personalized that inherently focuses on the student, where instruction is tailored to unique styles of learning and most importantly, encourages students to explore their specific interests and passions. I have always told children to find something they are passionate about, learn how to be better at it than anyone they know, and then find a way to make a living out of it. In doing so, they will never work a day in their lives and instead be fulfilling their dreams and aspirations. Today, teaching is exactly about this notion – unlocking the passions of our children to live into the future in which they will create, nurture and flourish.

Setting a framework for future Skills:

Launching ‘Future Skills’ platform in Feburary, 2018 Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted, ‘We stand today, at a moment in history, when technology, if used well for public good, can deliver lasting prosperity to mankind and a sustainable future for our planet… Disruptive technologies such as Block-chain and the Internet of things will have a profound impact in the way we live and work. They will require rapid adaptation in our workplaces.’ Modi said that skilling citizens for the workplace of the future is now a global imperative. Skills relevant today may very well become obsolete tomorrow. Nonetheless, there are useful frameworks for thinking about future skills and the future workforce. First and foremost, technological literacy is critical. Individuals will need to work with and harness the potential afforded by smart systems and tools as they become the norm in workplaces. For instance, familiarity with new media provides tech-savvy marketers access to huge data sets on consumer behaviour and a global market.

Multidisciplinary skills and specialization:

In our schools we develop and impart such curricula that cater to the individual, social, national and global needs of a child in the times to come. There was a time when just a matriculation certificate was enough to address the problems in society. Then after some years the requirement was an intermediate (+2) degree to address social issues; then we required an under-graduate degree, and then an under-graduate degree with soft skills; afterwards a post-graduate degree; moving further on, a post-graduate degree with a set of skills. Now what we require is research skills with analytical skills. Analyzing this change in requirement of skills, it may be safely predicted that in future a person will need many skills and a large spectrum of knowledge (polymath).

Higher-level of Computational Thinking Skills

The twenty- frst century is arguably the century of computing. Artifcial Intelligence has fnally come of age as it becomes embedded in the transformation of work, commerce and everyday life. Big data, speech and facial recognition, robotics, internet of things, cloud computing, autonomous vehicles and 24×7 access to anyone, anywhere in the world via social media is changing how and where people work, collaborate, communicate, shop, eat, travel, get news and entertainment, and quite simply, live.

We see that boundaries between business functions and domains are becoming more and more porous, and innovation increasingly arises from multidisciplinary research. To stay competitive, the workforce needs to comprise individuals who possess a combination of computational and thinking skills, and effectively manage significant amounts of information.

With global jobs and labour markets becoming a norm, increasing cultural diversity at the workplace is to be expected. Cross-cultural, collaborative and social intelligence skills will be sought after as individuals need to work in teams with diverse makeup, reach out to regional and international markets and engage with stakeholders in a global market. Finally, the mind-set underpinning these skills sets is essential. In such a fast-paced game, individuals have to be adaptable, motivated and agile to ensure that they stay relevant in a complex, competitive workplace.

Prioritizing Skill based Learning:

Much of the time in school is spent learning individually. But the more interdependent the world becomes, the greater the premium on great collaborators. Innovation today is rarely the product of individuals working in isolation but an outcome of how we mobilize share and link knowledge. So the premium in education needs to shift from qualifications-focused education upfront to skills-oriented learning throughout life. It also shows that skill development is far more effective if the world of learning and the world of work are linked. Compared to purely government-designed curricula taught exclusively in schools, learning in the workplace allows people to develop ‘hard’ skills on modern equipment, and ‘soft’ skills, such as teamwork, communication and negotiation, through real-world experience. Hands-on workplace training is also a great way to motivate disengaged youth to re-engage with education and smoothen the transition to work.

Just returning to my office after a class visit I happened to see these beautiful lines written by a Robert Langley.

I will not be beaten
Even when I’m down
I will get back up again
My feet firmly on the ground
I will not be discouraged
When things don’t go my way
I will learn from experience
And be back another day
You cannot defeat me
My spirit standing tall
I will accept the challenge
And proudly give my all
Take your shot and do your worst
I’ll still be here when you’re gone
Let’s see what you are made of
It’s time – so bring it on.

Ashok Singh Guleria

Ashok Singh Guleria

Ashok Singh Guleria, a teacher of 21 years standing, is a post- graduate in English Literature. He writes on pedagogical issues and children’s behavioural concerns. He has worked as Head of Department of English, curriculum planner and Academic coordinator cum Teachers’ Trainer at the Akal Academy Group of Schools run by the Kalghidhar Education Trust, Baru Sahib, at Kajri in Uttar Pradesh. Currently he works as Principal at Akal Academy, Gomti. He strives to develop and facilitate the building of a robust and sustainable teaching-learning fraternity embodied with a strong sense of work culture. He can be reached at ashok.guleria70@gmail.com

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