Challenges inspire change in how we teach

Education is of paramount importance to an individual as well as society. No matter which region or country we are living in, we must preserve our education system so that it helps us in preserving and furthering our knowledge.

Have you heard of the term phenomenon-based learning/teaching? For those who haven’t, it’s using a specific topic, event, or fact in the real-world to teach students, instead of the traditional subject-based teaching. I may still have some mixed feelings about not teaching maths or science or English but I totally agree that our teaching needs to be more current and focus on real-world scenarios.

Having said that, Finland has adopted phenomenon-based learning in their education system with great results to show.

Finland Students Rejoice!

Finland has the world’s best education system, according to EdSys. In fact, when five new parameters were added in the year 2017 for the categorization of best education systems worldwide, Finland managed to perform well and gave strong competition to South Korea and Japan. The country ranked higher on indicators, like;

  • Teachers to student ratio 1:7
  • Number of passing students in primary schools
  • Number of passing students in secondary schools
Source: Smithsonian Mag

Finnish teachers tend to stay with one student for a number of years and get to know the student on a more personal level. Also, teachers are being seen as equal to doctors and lawyers whereby they all have a masters degree.

For younger students, they only sit in class for 45 minutes, followed by a 15 minute break. There is an emphasis on free play and independence. 

Another thing that Finland education does differently is that it does not focus on test and academics, they have very relaxed teaching and grading methods. Curricular programs are designed to assist with learning and used flexibly by teachers as an aid, rather than focusing on helping students pass standardised tests.

Classes are not streamed by ability. The best and worst students are taught together, so talented children learn to teach, work in groups and accept diversity.

Source: Smithsonian Mag

Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager, advocates a “co-teaching” approach to resolve this, according to The Independent, with lessons planned jointly by more than one subject specialist. “We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow,” she said.

There is no such thing as a failing school in Finland, as BBC reported five years ago. Schools are not competitive, commercial nor controlled by politicians. 

This might correlate with the country leading the world in terms of happiness, success and equality. Its schooling methods are part of the reason for their success.

Pass Silander, Helsinki’s development manager, says the new teaching style is crucial for the modern world, where advanced computers have altered our educational needs.

“We have really changed the mindset,” he said. “Teachers who have taken to the new approach say they can’t go back.”

More articles on Finland’s phenomenon-based learning:
1, 2

New Zealand at the top!

Another non-traditional approach taken within the education sector is how education systems are evaluated. Namely, the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index, or WEFFI for short.

This index differs from the commonly used PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) to measure the inputs instead of the outputs. Outputs being test scores in reading, maths and science.

WEFFI was built to measure the extent to which education systems are adapting to meet the changing needs of our world. Changes like ageing populations, intensifying urbanisation and advancing technologies will all have an impact on the skills needed for the future workplace.

So, which country is best at adapting to these changing factors?

The answer: New Zealand. 

Based on a study conducted by WEFFI, they have found the following:

“Firstly, New Zealand views educating for future skills as a broadly-agreed strategic imperative: it is a small and remote country, with the vigilance that comes with knowing that it has little choice but to be globally competitive.

“Secondly, it has a systematic government-led approach to making its education system fit for purpose, across technology, teaching, curriculum and collaboration with industry.”

“New Zealand … is working hard to match its education system with the needs of industry and businesses by embracing the opportunities of digital technology and encouraging collaboration between schools,” it states on a You Tube clip about the index. What is ‘Worldwide Educating for the Future Index’

The Ministry of Education’s introduction of Communities of Learning and new digital technologies curriculum has played a part in the New Zealand education system’s success in these areas.

Time to adapt to change.

It takes society a bit of time to adapt to change, but it seems to react well to technological advancements. It helps that the current userbase are younger and quick to take up new technologies. Most students are confident users of digital technologies and how they work.

Therefore, schools shouldn’t focus on the specific equipment or specific subjects, but rather look at the learning outcomes and which tool is best for the design of these outcomes.

More and more we are surrounded by Artificial Intelligence, so how do we keep ahead of Automation, Robotics, Space Engineering? How do we equip our children to not just dream big but to achieve those dreams? 

A recent McKinsey report predicts that by 2030, up to 30% of today’s current jobs will have been automated. That means the future of learning will have to change.

By 2022 it is predicted that education will look like this:

Cloud-Based Education will be the rule, not the exception.

Seamless peer-to-peer and school-to-school collaboration will begin to appear in some districts.

Schools function as think-tanks to address local and global challenges such as clean water, broadband access, human trafficking, and religious intolerance. With this comes diverse learning forms, which serves to supplement schools— including entrepreneurial learning, invisible learning, question-based learning, and open-source learning.

How do we prepare for these changes?

  • shape the future of education to cultivate creativity.
  • equip kids with the right skills to face this uncertain world.
  • create tools that will incorporate both hard and soft skills in our way of teaching kids.

Whatever they learn must be applied to real day problem-solving skills

What better way to tackle fast-changing, real-world problems with equally evolving digital technologies? It also helps students to develop strategies in resilience and learning that ‘failure’ is good – we can grow and learn from problems and mistakes made through instantaneous feedback. Student engagement in their own learning is very high when using tools like coding, robotics, AR/VR, design, and 3D printing.

Kai’s Clan is a toolbox that offers solutions to apply such skills.

Kai’s Clan is a collaborative coding platform that encompasses several technologies into an all-in-one STEAM learning platform. 

To find out how Kai’s Clan can enrich your classroom and teaching, book a demo here!

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