Whether you are a builder or a driver, a writer or a radiographer, your job will soon disappear.  Mark Osborne‘s key note speech at Changing Spaces 2017 on the subject of future focused education provided a range of facts to proove that the world is in a rapid state of change.  Ten million driving jobs will be lost due to the rise of self-driven vehicles.  Construction jobs will  are under threat from the rise of 3D printers capable of building a house with minimal labour at a cost of only $5000.  Computers, when programmed with the necessary algorithms, can produce written reports as good as those produced by human beings.  Automated medical scans are more successful at picking up disease than human operated ones.  The lifespan of a students’ school education is thirteen years.  The last thirteen years have seen the most dramatic change in any previous thirteen year period in human history.  Who knows what might happen by 2030?


We have heard all this many times of course and Mark Osborne’s main point was a restatement of the cliche that the human attributes that were deemed important and which traditional forms of education took pains to instill, are no longer valued.  Compliance, diligence and knowledge are qualities better demonstrated by machines than humans.  Mrs Google now has all the knowledge so why do we need Mr  Professor? In order for education to be valid in this new world it needs to be innovative.  The traditional education methods and use of space do not allow the interactions that develop the skills needed to be successful in the future. Moving forward we need to focus on creativity, empathy, curiosity and connectivity.   These are attributes which technology cannot (yet) provide.  We need to educate people to complete non-routine, non customized work.  In order to do this we need to create learning spaces which encourage collaboration, inclusion and critical thinking.  Teachers need to teach in modern learning environments.


I often wonder what a classroom teacher is supposed to do when confronted with this information.  The end of teaching as I know it may soon be near,  If I do not have the opportunity to work in an innovative learning environment does any of this stuff apply?  Should I quit my job and go and find another school where I can teach in the manner that will bring success to students – or should I remain in my current school with its dinosaur philosophies, single-cell classrooms and end up teaching students in a manner that I know will doom them to failure?

Yes, we all know that we are small cogs in the national education machine, but big cogs in our own classrooms  and yes we can always grind a few gears,  but the bottom line is that we are still operating in an education machine apparently headed for the scrapheap.  It all sounds a bit deckchairs and Titanic. There are plenty of doomsayers out there telling us how inadequate our education system is, but what we really need are a few lifeboats.

To be fair to Mark Osborne, he was only setting the stage for a conference on modern learning environments and his job as the first key-note speaker was to explain why they are necessary.  The conference itself, however, did little to suggest how you might move forward if you were not in the happy situation of working in a brand new, decile 10, purpose built school.   We need to begin addressing some of the massive inequities in our system.  Why is it that most MLEs tend to be in high decile primary schools, whereas change in lower decile secondary schools is happening painfully slowly?  Why should it be that some students get the benefit of a system that works for them, whereas others do not?   Where is the professional development that teachers need in order to actually transition from traditional to modern methods?

The end might well be near, but we need to be doing more to prepare for it.



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