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Educating the future-makers.

In this month’s Wired magazine, Bas Verhart asks whether education is failing the future-makers.

He says: “Some of the world’s greatest creative leaders dropped out, found a way to create the type of education they needed, and changed our world”, citing the examples of Edwin Land (co-founder of Polaroid), Buckminster Fuller (inventor of the geodesic dome) and, of course, the late Steve Jobs.

In exploring why today’s future makers are dropping out he gives some interesting examples (see the full list in his article):

  • Society is changing so fast that science-based education can barely keep up, meaning students often know more about subjects than their professors.
  • Instead of looking at absolute truths based on the past (which gives a false sense of certainty), futuremakers imagine scenarios that don’t yet exist.
  • Because futuremakers get a rush out of the next big thing, they are constantly following their instinct for change.
  • They typically have an explorative and analytical mindset, and are divergent and convergent thinkers.

“…maybe the concept of an ‘institution’ is all wrong”, Bas continues, “…maybe these thinkers had to drop out in order to find the various pieces of education, inspiration and experimentation they needed to achieve vision. Today’s schools seem to be missing out on teaching ‘discovery skills’, described in The Innovator’s DNA (Clayton M Christensen et al) as associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and networking.”

I wonder what this might look like in our education systems, where we are concerned both about the knowledge that is shared, but also the environment in which learning takes place, allowing real educational experiences of discovery. Where we give educators the freedom to create students with inquisitive minds, applying their knowledge and experience to the world around them. Where our indicators and metrics of success are radically different, and measured for the long-term.

My work with IFES gives me opportunity to interact with students around the world. We are driven by a passion to see the students of today formed into the leaders of tomorrow; students trained and transformed to shape their societies. We are in the business of equipping future-makers.

Education is changing, and must change. The rate of change in education has to increase to keep pace with the rest of society.

“Does the world need more dropouts? Probably not. But we do need more future-makers. Imagine what these edgy, creative, crazy minds could achieve if they stayed in school — the right kind of school, that is.”

What is your vision for the future of education? How can we best serve the future-makers?

Changing education paradigms.

As I continue to ponder how the university environment is likely to change in the next 5-10 years, in response to the wider changes in technology and culture, I found this video on changing education paradigms incredibly helpful. It takes a look at how we arrived at the education system we have in place today, and asks some interesting questions as it considers some of the flaws of this model. And as a learning tool, I also appreciate the visual interest and creativity given in the way the talk has been animated. Much food for thought.

Brain thinking.

“The brain stops at the skull, but the mind doesn’t. Scientists are appreciating that the brain is a hub in a bigger system of information exchange, with loops extending spatially beyond the body, and temporally into the past and future. Neuroscience is not enough: we need a better understanding of the person.”

Nicholas Humphrey
Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics