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Future & Skills Learning

Future and skills

We need creative scientists as much as we need artists who understand the property of materials and the affordances of new technology. Warwick Commission Report on the Future of Cultural Value 

 The wider world has changed almost beyond recognition yet school remains by and large the same.

The English school system is still set up to fulfil what we needed for citizens when we were going through the industrial era. Our political leaders talk about the knowledge economy apparently unaware that we’ve moved on. They focus on facts about ‘core’ subjects at the expense of art and music and drama and woodwork.

There is a particular danger that the skills which schools prioritise as easy to teach and easy to assess are also those which are easiest and most likely to be automated. Research has shown that we have a skills shortage in foreign languages and in digital skills, two areas which our schools are particularly weak on.

Leaders from across varied industries are telling us the same. Schools teaching facts by rote and within siloed subject areas is damaging.  What is needed is creativity, the ability to think laterally, problem solve, see connections.

There is evidence to suggest that children are naturally very creative thinkers, geniuses no less, and it is school which is crushing this. We need to support children’s natural curiosity, their amazing ability to learn through play and their innate love of learning.

Education today is much more about ways of thinking which involve creative and critical approaches to problem-solving and decision-making. It is also about ways of working, including communication and collaboration, as well as the tools they require, such as the capacity to recognise and exploit the potential of new technologies, or indeed, to avert their risks. And last but not least, education is about the capacity to live in a multi-faceted world as an active and engaged citizen. These citizens influence what they want to learn and how they want to learn it, and it is this that shapes the role of educators.

Andreas Schleicher, OECD Education Directorate

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