Thursday 16 February 2017

The teacher's dilemma

How can we prepare students for standardised tests at the end of high school and still teach them valuable 21st Century Skills necessary to be successful in the job market?

Teachers often have to balance these two aspects: teaching their students what they will need to know to perform well at the end of the year versus giving them the skills needed to succeed in life. The pressure from school management is immense and teachers will rely on what they know when the going gets tough. Trying to find new and interesting ways to get students working together and solving problems quickly falls by the wayside when the pressure is on. 

This approach may be successful in the short term, but in a world where robotics and AI is fast becoming commonplace, the need for modern-day skills becomes even greater.

Research conducted by Hanover into 6 major educational frameworks has identified 4 critical areas for development that they all agree on.

How many of these skills are necessary to succeed in school examinations?

I recently spoke to a teacher who is going to experiment with a "genius hour" - a concept made popular by Google with their 20% time. This will allow students the opportunity to collaborate with others on a project of their own choosing, without the need to adhere to the strict confinements of the curriculum. This brave approach will hopefully be as successful in a school setting as it was for Google (OK, maybe not quite the same!). Thank you Gmail and Adsense to name a couple!

Apple recently abandoned the headphone jack in their latest iPhone 7 and Tim Cook referred to it as courageous. I am not sure Tim and I have the same definition of the word, but I believe it takes true courage to step out into the unknown in an attempt to inspire a younger generation. To give them the chance to explore their creativity, to work together and to become more than test-taking AI machines.

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