KUALA LUMPUR: Children need to be taught to think creatively across the boundaries of traditional disciplines to see the world through different lenses in preparing them to be global citizens of the digital world.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Education and Skills director Andreas Schleicher stressed on the need to transform the way children are taught in schools to prepare them to become global citizens.
The most successful societies, he said, were often the most creative ones.
“The more diverse our children’s interests and experiences, the more they are encouraged to work with their peers to address problems in new ways, the better prepared they will be for the new digital age,” he said in his speech at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) 2017 in Dubai on March 18.
Schleicher stated five ways in which schools need to change, namely, in terms of student inclusion, the curriculum, teacher quality, school organisation and accountability.
“We are very good at ranking human talent but not very good at developing it. We need to focus on all students, all the time and move away from constantly testing to find the best.
“We should be developing everyone, not looking for those already doing well.”
Schleicher said the kind of things that were the easiest to teach and the easiest to assess were also the type of knowledge that was most easy to digitalise, automate and outsource.
In the digital world, he said, children need to be taught “complex ways of thinking, complex ways of doing and the skills for collaboration.”
He also believes that collective capacity and complex thinking do not sit with standardisation and compliance.
Teachers, he said, need to be freed from the constant demands of tests and exams.
Instead, teachers need to be high-level professional knowledge workers, showing young people how to problem solve in new and innovative ways, he said.
Schleicher also said the most creative thinkers were those least likely to work well in strongly hierarchical structures.
“Instead, collegial, collaborative systems encourage independence and creative risk in a supportive way. Structure should emphasis exploration, not ensure compliance.”
He insisted that teachers and schools should have the freedom to experiment and support staff trying new ways of working.
In the ‘industrial’ schooling system, professional autonomy should be valued, with accountability to colleagues, families and children rather than the hierarchical structure, he said.
Schleicher warned that while the digital age will be liberating for those who can make the most of it, for those left behind without the right skills and education it will mean vulnerable working situations such as zero-hour contracts without benefits or insurance.
“For many it will mean no work at all.
“If we fail to create more global citizens, we will see a further worsening of the existing problem of growing inequality and a further erosion of the social fabric,” he added.
GESF 2017, a Varkey Foundation initiative, is held at The Atlantis, Dubai, on March 18 and March 19 with leading figures from public, private and social sectors in attendance.
The fifth annual GESF, held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, focuses on the theme of “How to make real global citizens”.
Widely referred to as ‘the Davos of Education’, the GESF debates new ways for education to transform our world, with the event culminating in the announcement of the winner of the US$1million (RM4.4 million) Global Teacher Prize 2017.