Following instructions has been at the core, and has driven the success of, mass education. Yet in a more volatile, uncertain world, characterised by innovation and entrepreneurship, we now need to equip young people to solve problems of all shapes and sizes. Problems that will not come with instructions.
To make that shift, education systems need to provide dynamic experiences for young people through which they can learn in practice how to deploy knowledge in action, to work with others and to develop critical personal strengths such as persistence and resilience, to learn from feedback and overcome setbacks.
What is at stake in the debate over the future of learning is not whether school systems rise or fall in the PISA rankings. It is about how well education prepares young people to flourish in a society awash with intelligent technology, facing an uncertain future, with endless opportunities for collaboration but also deep-seated and urgent challenges that need addressing.
We need to learn to be more human as society becomes more technological, to become more creative as work becomes more programmed, to be more empathetic as systems become more pervasive, to take the initiative rather than meekly follow instructions, to work together rather than go it alone. We are not robots. We must excel at being human.
We must facilitate the global learning movement towards more dynamic education systems. In this way we will allow more students to become problem solvers, and to develop the basic human capacities to care, empathise and to create. Those three abilities – to care about what happens in the world,
to empathise with other people, and to create new artefacts and solutions – will be more important even than the new knowledge we muster.
The Problem Solvers was commissioned by Pearson as part of its Open IDeas programme.
Here is a video of a talk on The Problem Solvers:
An article written about The Problem Solvers for Schools Week can be found here.