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Education fails technology test

THE business of education is failing. Neither the client - society - nor the customers - schoolkids - are happy with the service. Parents in the industrialised world, particularly those active in progressive businesses, are indicating increased dissatisfaction with the existing school systems, both government and private. They sense the inadequacy of the school’s learning environment to prepare anyone for the future.

Teachers cannot be blamed. They are doing the job they were trained to do, which basically is to shift deckchairs on the Titanic of 20th century educational principles and practices. The world is moving too fast for them to keep up. Most of our kids know this. Most teachers do not - how could they, being cocooned in a monolithic system that continually reinvents itself on the same model?

For the first time in history, we cannot train our kids for their future - we don’t know what it will be. Economic futurists say 70 per cent of the jobs in 15 years have not been invented yet - mostly because 80 per cent of the technology in 15 years has not been thought of yet.

The chasm between our schools’ understanding of today’s youth and their future, and the future already being lived by our youth, widens daily.

Perhaps the ultimate indictment of the school system by parents is the withdrawal of their children from all bricks and mortar-based education. Home-based learning is rapidly becoming the option of families who have made that tough and scary decision that they can do a better job of nurturing the appropriate learning for happy, confident, articulate, responsible, and informed sons and daughters. And most of them are just that, probably because they have spent so much time outside the home experiencing the everyday real world of adults and children in their varied living and working situations. While being treated with dignity and responsibility.

We have almost 400, 000 students in more than 1000 bricks and mortar schools being socialised and conditioned into our view of the present. We are not getting even that right. Technology is still a peripheral part of most classroom activity. Most classrooms still do not have even one computer available for student use. School computers are often isolated in a separate room, just like a library, meaning students cannot instantly go to the Internet and find the relevant info they need.

The ultimate indictment of our society by our youth must be their choosing to end their life rather than choosing any of the bleak options they see as their only future. Our schools must bear a large part of the responsibility for this inability to see a positive future.

As WA’s internationally-respected emerging technology futurist Sue Jefferies says: for the first time, children know more about the delivery system of information than do most teachers.

One six year old, after her first day at school, proclaimed to her parents: I am only going to school until it’s on CD-ROM.

n Ann Macbeath is a futurist and principal of Annimac Consultant

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