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Future of education: What’s worth learning in school?

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Chances are you felt ill-equipped for adult life after leaving school - to no fault of your own! As society changes quickly, educational systems are slower to catch on.

 

How can we reform educational systems to empower students to develop skills, values and attitudes needed to succeed in life?

What kind of education would make young people feel like they could take on the challenge of shaping their societies?

What are the skills students most need to learn?

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The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has selected some of its resources to provide young people like you with background information and insights linked to the topic above.

Briefing, April 2020

At a Glance, February 2020

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Thomas
10 June 2020

I believe a main topic left out in current education systems is the basics for the functioning of society.

A goal of the educational system is to raise young people to be responsible and aware adults, so that they can contribute to an ever-improving society. So that each generation will have it better than the previous one.

What I think is lacking in the current educational system is the awareness part. During school years, there is not a lot of attention going to explaining the basic mechanisms of a functioning society. I am talking about basic infrastructure such as how waste is collected, how clothes are produced, where the water that comes out of our taps comes from. I am talking about where are food comes from, the slaughterhouses that create our meat, the fields that raise our crops, the harbours that ship in the avocados from Costa Rica,...

I believe many challenges we face now (climate change, environmental pollution, global inequality) come from the fact that many people are not aware of how society actually functions.
Let's take the example of water usage. Many people do not know where the water that comes out of our taps comes from, or where our sewage water goes to.

This lack of knowledge gives the impression that water is an infinite resource, that we will never run out of. Now, climate change is showing us differently. Some regions in western Europe, which was thought to be a very wet area of the world, have been noticing a lack of water in recent years. But still habits on water consumption haven't been changing. I think that more awareness of where our water comes from and how we use it could inspire many people to use it more sustainably.

More importantly, and this counts for water as well as other resources, if we create a society where everybody, including politicians, are aware of our resources and how we use them, it will be much easier to manage these sustainably, merely through the fact that more people will be thinking about it.

Zs
01 June 2020

First, I would like to put a finger on various issues related to the schools in some places.
What I think is that Covid-19 showed us, we think more digitally embedded education more than ever. As many schools went online in different parts of Europe, it turned out there are great differences in terms of digital equipment and digital practices among countries, regions and even within the very same city/town/area. The differences were even greater among people with different social and economic backgrounds: those students who already had learning difficulties (e.g. ADHD or concentration problems) they had big challenges during the pandemic to learn what the schools expect from them – without proper guidance (due to lack of tools and/or parental help) they are going to face with problems that are difficult to overcome in the long term.

Therefore, as I see it, it is crucial to make sure that every family has access to digital gadgets and tools. Also, it is important to develop students as well as their teachers’ digital skills because digitalism is highly integrated in our lives now. Teachers should be provided support – both human resources and quality practical trainings – in order to be able to develop the quality of their own teachings.

Talking about digital skills, security and ethical use of the Internet are also truly needed to be taught. Internet is a great opportunity to learn and communicate but has many dangers at the same time. Kids should be prepared to know how to behave in the online environment as well as how they can protect themselves.

Second, in the work field, soft skills value more and more besides the hard skills. Creativity as such is a priority from the aspects of employers nowadays. Companies, workplaces and economies need creative thinkers and creative problem solvers who are critical at the same time, and ready to analyse problems ahead of them. It should go hand in hand with the readiness to form plans and implement them (entrepreneurial skills). Consequently, schools need more subject integration and more project-based teaching to let students see issues in their complexity and find solutions from different angles (disciplines). Projects are also good for teaching students how to cooperate and collaborate with each other – cooperative skills (in the 21st century) are highly valued skills in any field of work.

Schools should react more the reality in which the students live in general. Schools should encourage students to be active citizens through various programmes to make them eager to act in favour of their local community. But schools should react to the phenomenon of the globalised world and the multicultural environments by making students tolerant, acceptable and open towards each other and people who are different from them. International school collaborations are good ways to broaden the students’ minds.

There could be a lot more listed like better sexual education, carrier management, learning about the EU, or the democracy itself (from both theoretical and sort of practical approach), finances, and so on. These are all extremely important. But what I think is even more important to let students explore on their own. For this reason, as they get older, they should get familiar with the concept of life long learning and how they can set goals and what steps they should take to achieve them (in terms of learning). Also, schools (including higher education) should provide lots of activities for kids and young people. Schools should not work as separate units but rather work together and share the “burden” of organizing in school activities.

Grishma Kandel
23 May 2020

I used to love going to school when I was a child. I always pondered on why I have such an opposite perception of going to school everyday now. I used to think it was just a part of growing up, and due to exams. I hate exams, but yet I love learning. Here is the problem in our Irish secondary school system: there is no excitement.

At the beginning of first year, a child feels that they have finally reached another milestone in their life, in which they can get the opportunity to be able to push themselves more than they did in primary school. And yes, there is a certain degree of excitement as you buy your first books for a whole new course, daunting but yet there is a bit of hope and anticipation there. At the start of first year, you enjoy learning the coursework. All the new information, all the new ways to look at the world.

Then summer exams come around and the first stress comes up: how do I study for exams? What skills do I need? Where should I start? These questions are heavy, but the answer is simple. Everything you need to know is in your book. And after first year, a student's best friend when it comes to the topic of succeeding in life is one book.

This dependency of a structured course has resulted in the dimming of our students. Students lose the ability to create new ideas, to explore new theories and to actually apply the knowledge in their own life. The system has meant that the hard working students can limit their efforts to memorizing key facts, while the lazier and less creative students do the same. There is no individuality in the classroom, where the teachers go on and on about topics the children will just memorise at home. The very essence of learning has been taken away.

School was fun when we got to move around, play with our peers at yard time, run in the grass on sunny days and return to our poster-covered walls after. It was a reason to be thrilled everyday upon the very concept that you could go to this space where everyone just enjoys sharing ideas, building lego structures whilst at the same time learning your core subjects.

There has been efforts to incorporate creativity in the classrooms in the Junior Cycle, yes, but it is highly ineffective. For example, when I did my CBAs, all of my teachers were banned from giving any help to me at all. These CBAs, that did not even go into our final grade, suddenly felt like an exam. In these, children get no help in developing their ideas or structuring their project, which will make the task so much more daunting for them. It is a step towards the right direction, but not quite planned enough yet.

School must become a learning space to articulate your thoughts and to make one feel intelligent in their own creative ability. It is simple: help students build their own ideas and give them the resources and the opportunity to engage and connect thoroughly with a subject.

Adam Szekely
14 October 2019

The Problem:

Youth population is hard to find proper job for their skills after University years. In some cases talents of various topics remain unknown for a lifetime which is a big loss for the economical growth.

Everyone is the best on something and soft-skills (like leadership, team management, etc.) could also play a big role in professional life.

The Solution:

We have to introduce the Greek Life to our Universities.

This means privately financed (through gifts and offerings) student/alumni clubs (fraternities & sororities) under the autonomy of the Univerities to spend free time on. Often organized around mythical symbolism and using greek letters to identify themselves, like Chi Omega.

For the stundents it is an exciting journey, social game and place to grow network and get lifetime friends. The bests possibly get offered before the end of their studies.

***

After a while (as they evolve, appear/disappear) club-specific traditions will group different psychological archetypes together, regardless the exact studies.

For companies/networks it is the best place to map talents before they entering professional field and getting the very bests with little effort.

***

Advantages:

- Smooth transition to professional field
- Better talent selection
- Place to improve social and soft-skills
- Grow network
- Strong bounds (can be translated into economical growth)

Disadvantages:

- In some rare cases clubs can go wild (must be ruled & administrated)

Additional information:

- At Dartmouth College ~78% of the students are involved to Greek Life

***

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dartmouth_College_Greek_organizations
Reference: Animal House (1978)

Mahi
07 August 2019

Education is a really important subject and should be easy for everyone! It would be really nice if all the European countries have the same education system. For instance, the way people get in the universities ought to be the same in every country. Like this nothing will be unfair.

Teodora Zheleva
07 August 2019

Are the Humanity's science going to die?
There are many reasons from different nature-as related to science itself, the outflow of humanities is related to turning them into a factories that are aging very fast and not interesting to the young people; as well as the futility of humanitarian values ​​in today's material society.

Several issues emerge in the foreground:

What qualities and competencies should the "young teacher" of history and civilization possess? - Is the theoretical and practical preparation at the university sufficient enough for the young Historian-pedagogues to be qualified and adequate to the complex circumstances? - What motivates a teacher and what are the challenges facing the successful realization in the field of education?

SCHER
15 July 2019

En France, la différence entre les formations professionnelles et les formations générales est bien trop grande. Comment arriver à faire que toutes les formations soient considérées de la même importance.
Bien souvent les jeunes n'osent pas s'engager ou sont dissuadé(e)s de prendre une formation par la voie professionnelle. inventer une autre façon de présenter les différentes façons d'arriver à une formation diplômante...
Un autre problème est important pour les jeunes : le décrochage scolaire ! Comment ne pas s'engager dans cette voie ? comment en sortir ? comment rattraper une formation ? comment ne pas culpabiliser et ne pas se dire que tout est fini ?

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