The ‘Future Gap’

There are so many discussions about the way forward in education, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. The changed landscape due to this global crisis has exposed and challenged the education system, and made it vulnerable and inadequate.

Learning, throughout the decades, hasn’t changed much. That is, the content, or the things we learn about in the classroom. The mathematics I learned 20 years ago would still be the mathematics being taught in the classroom today. While the world has transformed rapidly in the last 20 years, a lot of our education has remained unchanged.

Here lies the dilemma: If this continues, what we teach our children now will be obsolete by the time they enter the workforce. This is what people are calling the ‘future gap’.

“There’s a huge gap between what kids are learning now and what they will need to know in the future.”

The world in 20 years’ time will look very different. Will the education we have now be sufficient to prepare the children of today for that tomorrow?

In order to address this ‘future gap’, we must anticipate what the future will be like, and reform our education to meet those needs. Thankfully we do not need a crystal ball for this. It is possible to predict what the future workplace will be like.

The author suggests a focus on STEM. We can already see that progression even today, as we move into a world that is run on technology. It’s not just a trend, it is an established pattern. The future workplace will be a place where skills in STEM will not only be highly valued, but very much a necessity.

But perhaps, more importantly, as Dr Steven Paine says, “it’s not about what we teach but how it’s taught”. We need to focus on skills such as problem-solving and social skills – key competences for a tech-saturated world.

“…the skills of the future will be far less recall-based and far more rooted in understanding systems, problem-solving, social empathy, and collaboration.”

There is no real value in what we learn if we cannot make it useful. So, we need to ensure that our children today gain an education that truly has value in the future. Otherwise, it is like putting glass beads into their hands instead of diamonds. Let’s ensure they have what it takes to not just survive in the future, but also to flourish.

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