In 20th-century schools, students were exposed to a simple learning process that mostly involved rote learning, which was then tested by how well that learning could be recalled. The result of that educative process provided society with a 20 per cent cohort that would then go on to further training so they could manage and/or direct the 80 per cent in what they should do, as they toiled in the low-skill factories and service industries that existed prior to 1983.
The problem we face now is our desperate need for the reverse of those percentages. As we cast aside the social stereotypes of the 1900s, we must now develop a better understanding of our identity and its flexibility. Our workplaces are now demanding a far more sophisticated learning process, along with the competence to manage that complexity. The end-point of learning has shifted from remembering to a focus on innovation and ingenuity, and suddenly the 20:80 model schools have historically produced must now become an 80:20 one.
Increasingly, 80 per cent of learners exiting our schools are expected to have high levels of competence, know how to learn ‘on the fly,’ and adapt to meet changing trends, by applying an entrepreneurial mindset. These demands require more people to be constantly upskilling with a focus on innovation and ingenuity. This radical departure from remembering as an endpoint of learning in 1983, to one where innovation and ingenuity will increasingly be the new endpoint, requires 80 per cent of learners to be exposed to a very different set of learning experiences. This requires a considerable shift of emphasis in both curricula and educator’s pedagogical practice.
It is not good enough to merely build innovative/modern learning spaces; we now have to completely change the nature of the learning in all spaces; innovative or not! Our challenge is to re-engineer curricula to reflect the realities of preparing our young people and ourselves for 2020 onwards, and that is not as simple as offering coding courses for everyone, as code is writing code these days!
What we now need is a curriculum that meets these challenges head-on; recognising that high levels of competence and adaptability are now critical for everyone, for all of us ‘learners’ to manage our far more challenging social and workplace worlds that we inhabit.
Students must urgently morph into learner-educators and teachers into educator-learners, and that is only possible if everyone understands and can apply a far more sophisticated learning process and apply their competencies appropriately! The learning process diagram demonstrates the vast chasm that separates the 1983 learning process from the required 2020 learning process.
This is just the beginning … and over the next few months, we will walk you through how educators will need to confront these challenges and what curricula must now look like for schools at every level, to remain relevant in 2020 onwards! Welcome to the reality of the 21st century!
Mark Treadwell has been researching how school systems will need to adapt to meet the needs our dramatically changing world. The three resources that contribute to the Global Curriculum Project are:
1.The background text ‘The Future of learning’ is a free download available from here.
3.The Global Conceptual Curriculum sample is available from here with the final version available in Feb 2019.