Skilling students and making them future ready is even more challenging in the modern world as re-skilling and lifelong learning is the new order –Maarit Rossi
The days of learning at school and doing the job lifelong are gone. A worker today need s to keep abreast of changes, technological and otherwise on a daily basis. People who possessed a type of skill would, in the past, survive a lifetime but not anymore.
Most occupations are undergoing a fundamental transformation. While some jobs are threatened by redundancy and others grow rapidly, existing jobs are also going through a change in the skill sets required to do them.
The half-life of a skill has dropped from 30 years to an average of 6 years. This holds true even for fresh university graduates. This can mean that the model of “learn at school” and “do at work” is no longer sustainable and constant re-skilling and lifelong learning will be a way of life at work.
We need to educate students for the future where they will work in teams that will assemble and disband quickly. Instead of job levels and titles they will have assignments, tasks and expert roles. New organisation’s culture models will be for example: citizenship, collective thinking and shared values.
These are the reasons World Economic Forum is listing the skills needed in the workplaces. Some of the skills are:
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgement & decision making
- Service orientation
- Cognitive flexibility
Schools and specially keeping Mathematics in my mind can offer learning environment supporting these skills, but is this happening in the schools and during math lessons? What needs to be changed in the school environment, in the content and in teaching math?
School architecture needs a change
Just look around your school environment and the possibilities how students can move, work and be active. Even the school architecture often seems to be old and remind us more of factories –but even that can change the learning environment. During the school hours students also need time to build and practice their social skills. If we don’t provide this possibility for them, it is quite obvious that they want to practice it during the lessons.
Students need breaks during the school day. Schools need areas, where students can have their breaks. The more active those areas are, the more creative the students will be. I have visited countries, where in some schools students don’t have any or too short breaks. I have visited countries where in some schools students don’t have any other place than classrooms! Are these the kind of environments supporting any future skills?
How can the structure of a classroom support future skills? For centuries students are made to be seated in rows in the classroom. Teacher has been in front of classroom teaching new things and concepts. Teacher has asked questions and checked that students have followed the process. One student at a time has answered the questions. Especially in mathematics the answer has often been only one short solution. How can this kind of a model support future skills? By arranging the class we can create an environment which changes teacher’s way to teach and student’s way to take more active part in their own learning processes. By rearranging the classroom more suitable for group works, it is also better for discovery learning, inquiry-based learning and, phenomenon-based learning.
Finland believes that a top-down approach does not work when improving the education and it does not encourage teachers to find new solutions in schools. Instead, we think the collaboration is the way to achieve the best results. Increasing people’s commitment to the development of education is therefore essential.