10 December 2021
Educating for the Future: Part 2
4th Industrial Revolution
“The narrow past approach of learning by rote has delayed our progress. Learners today need to be resilient, naturally inquisitive, adaptable and emotionally intelligent.” - Jason Lewis, Principal, Bosworth Independent College
Our first blog in this series, Educating for the Future: Part 1, looked at the impact of industrial revolutions on education. In particular, how education systems and skills that young people develop are matched with the needs of the workplace and continued economic growth. We are now at the start of the fourth industrial revolution – the age of computers and artificial intelligence - which gives us the opportunity to revisit how we educate young people to prepare them for the world they are going to live in as adults.
In 2015, the Office for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recognised the urgent need to make a global change to education strategy, launching 'The Future of Education and Skills 2030'2. They describe a notion of ‘Social Pain’ where the needs of industry and economic growth are not met for a period of time as the education system learns to adapt accordingly. Luckin and Issroff, 2018; and Autor and Price, 2013 are cited in the background report, saying:
“Computers, including Artificial Intelligence, are not as good as humans at abstract tasks, manual tasks, tasks requiring complex contextual information and tasks requiring ethical judgements”.
“There is something that artificial intelligence cannot do, be human. Our education and pedagogy will play a significant role in an increasingly narrow definition of what it means to be uniquely human.”
Principal, CATS London
The notion that computers cannot complete a variety of tasks gives good context to look further at what skills we need to develop for our students at CATS Global Schools.
The OECD is not the only major body to take notice of the need for change. The Economist publishes a yearly 'The Worldwide Educating for the Future Index'2, which provides an indication as to how education systems around the world measure towards meeting the needs for the future across four key areas. Finland, Sweden and New Zealand, in particular, do well across the board, however, the UK averages 16th place, the USA 24th and China 34th (all locations where CATS Global Schools has institutions), showing there is a good deal of work still to do.
At CGS, we have decided to think differently and fully embrace the vision of education for the future, to enable our students to Go Further. Throughout our community, we have students ranging from kindergarten to postgraduates from a variety of nationalities and cultural backgrounds - all with different visions of their personal futures. We are on a journey to reimagine what education looks like to equip our students with the skills and behaviours they need to succeed and thrive in tomorrow’s world.
At CATS Global Schools, we have approached this change by focusing on nine skills, across three categories that we believe will make our students fit for life in 2030 and beyond. These are Human, Analytical and Enterprise skills.
“If education is to be effective, it must give real weight to the development of emotional and social skills in at least equal measure to academic progress."
Principal, CATS Cambridge
We believe that emotionally intelligent, empathetic and self-aware students learn better and faster, help create a more positive learning environment for others and are far better placed to do well in the increasingly complex, multi-issue and stakeholder world of tomorrow. More so than those who are either less emotionally evolved or consider these skills and behaviours to be optional.
According to Daniel Goleman in his seminal book 'Emotional Intelligence'3, EQ is a better predictor of life success than IQ. Fostering well-rounded, holistic students who are compassionate, kind and understanding, and are attuned to thinking about others, as well as themselves, is a core requirement for future leaders and world shapers.
The core leadership skill of the near future will be the ability to articulate direction and meaning as we navigate change. Doing this will require having the ability to both know yourself and be able to emotionally understand and connect with others.
“Tomorrow's leaders will work in a different way, so education must develop soft skills and character as much as it does knowledge."
Headmaster, St Michael's School
This ‘emotional wrapper’ will act as a passport, enabling students to have far easier, more genuine and more effective interaction and engagement with their fellow workers. It is the behavioural bedrock for our three core skills and the agile learning mindset.
Cognitive flexibility, data literacy and curiosity are integral to the ‘agile learning mindset’ that we think will be the cornerstone of all future work skills. Being able to think flexibly and having and celebrating a certain ‘plasticity’ in your thinking, will be crucial in keeping up with and not being intimidated by change.
Being able to evaluate seemingly contradictory notions and synthesise meaning, without being dismissive of ideas that do not easily fit within your existing worldview, will be the hallmark of a future learner and leader. The agile learning mindset insists on academic rigour and freedom, and revels in the potential of our thinking, wanting to see this celebrated, not curtailed.
And being endlessly curious, relentless and eager to find the new or better way will be a key driver of success.
“We encourage students at all levels to think beyond the curriculum and engage in issues of local and global significance. One of the ways in which we promote curiosity is through the extended project qualification.”
Principal, CATS Canterbury
Globally there is a premium on ‘start-up’ thinking: the courage and agility to create, be innovative and not let risk constrain reward. The new technologies overtly support this entrepreneurial positioning, and we see this skill as being the main cultural driver of innovation. At CATS Global Schools, we are only one of two high school communities anywhere in the world to have a Bloomberg Business Lab - encouraging this kind of thinking is critical.
It is beyond doubt that Digital literacy is the single most important skill that will be needed in the workplace of the future, where almost every position, irrespective of what it involves, will require the ability to be digitally literate. Our students need to be able to adapt their digital knowledge to apply it to all kinds of situations and most importantly they need to know how to interact with a new kind of intelligence as job roles change. Doctors for example will be able to call upon a vast array of knowledge at the touch of a button or use intricate robots to perform operations, but their human intuition and physical skills are what makes this really work.
We are also unabashed supporters of creating global citizens: students who can embrace opportunity on a global scale. We reject the current zeitgeist of localism, fear of global commitment and the urge to remake a post-COVID world that is less ambitious and more tribal. It is self-evident to us that the students most comfortable with the future will be those who consider the whole world their stage and no corner of the earth off-limits for their potential contributions.
Our approach to educating for the future is also valuable for further study and the world of work. For example, universities and employers are just as interested in the transferable, soft skills of young people as the innate knowledge and recall of a particular topic. Developing each of our nine skills to a high standard will make our students at CATS Global Schools stand out amongst the best.
This series (two blog posts) has reviewed how the education system has been shaped by the ever-changing needs of society and how it continues to evolve with the upcoming fourth industrial revolution. We have outlined how we at CGS focus on nine skills that our students will need for the future in three categories - Human, Analytical and Entrepreneurial. In a continuation of these posts, we will be looking at the importance of the nine skills.
1 OECD (2019), OECD, Future of Education and Skills 2030 project background, OECD, https://www.oecd.org/education/2030-project/about/E2030%20Introduction_FINAL_rev.pdf
2 The Economist (2019), The Worldwide Educating for the Future Index 2019, The Economist Intelligence Unit, https://educatingforthefuture.economist.com/the-worldwide-educating-for-the-future-index-2019
3 Goleman, Daniel (1995), Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Bantam Books, United States