One-Size-Fits-All Education No Longer Works
When the National Assessment of Educational Progress published its school assessment outcomes, it showed that scores have progressively fallen across the entire United States. Nearly 40% of all eighth-graders failed basic math concepts, only 26% of eighth-graders were proficient in math, and only 37% of fourth-graders performed above “basic” in reading. In addition, newly-released research by Tyton Partners, an education consultancy, shows that districts’ enrollments are declining. In this report, parents expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of personalized learning experiences. Seventy percent of parents are interested in exploring other in- and out-of-school educational options, according to Tyton’s research.
Across the ocean, recent research carried out by the UK’s Impact at Big Change charity showed widespread discontent in young people, with 64% of respondents saying the education system didn’t adequately prepare them for life. As a result, school absenteeism is growing due to disengaged learners. Students often miss classes because they’re already behind or they feel like they don’t have a place in the classroom. For some of them, their family lifestyle has changed because today’s society is very different from what it used to be, and more of them prefer homeschooling, online learning, or other alternative forms of education. For whatever reason, the mass education, or one-size-fits-all approach to learning, no longer works.
Amending or ending “mass education” doesn’t mean we eliminate curriculum. It simply means new generations will enjoy more personalized services tailored to enhance their unique individuality or address their particular needs while still fostering collaboration. Education’s new era should embrace the learners’ individual personalities, capabilities, talents, and strengths.
However, while we’re advancing as a society in various arenas, most schools still follow traditional models, with standardized processes and very little innovation. Although we keep hearing more about interesting and innovative educational projects, and some teachers really do their best to bring fresh air to the educational system, their efforts are still not enough on a larger scale—a sad truth reflected in research and surveys.
The outdated education system’s breakdown is a vast composite of many contributing factors. From politics and societal negligence to the fast-changing world, fear of change, and not enough funding, the reasons for its demise are many and complex. As the population is growing exponentially (we just reached 8 billion people on this planet), we need to be very inventive about how to provide personalized and new-age learning to such a large group.
Education has a direct link with economic success and development according to the UN; therefore, it is important to equip young generations with skillsets for the future. The recent World Economic Forum Survey on Future Jobs suggests that “a wide range of occupations will require a higher degree of cognitive abilities—such as creativity, logical reasoning, and problem sensitivity—as part of their core skill set.” While in the past people used to work their whole life in the field they chose to study, new generations will transition through different careers path a few times throughout their lives, enabled by larger skill sets and new work environments that will allow for it.
So, to grow new skills and advance learners’ creativity, imagination, critical thinking, and potential, education should no more be limited to books or screens. To encourage exploratory thinking and push the limits of knowledge, we need to provide learners with unique experiences that will spark new ideas. New educational technology is addressing current education issues and offers solutions for new types of learning, but it still largely depends on the education sector’s capacity to quickly adapt to the evolution as well as offer general support, which could come in the form of funding, upskilling teachers, etc. An innovation-enabled approach to education is crucial for the future. Furthermore, fostering the links between education and other industries will stimulate innovation as well as funding.
Finally, the idea that students will be able to learn anytime, anywhere, regardless of their physical location in the world will be an innovation-enabled reality. They will learn in a far different way than we used to learn through mass education. Education will not only be about acquiring new skills and knowledge; it will be about expanding unique human potential. Therefore, we must not only believe in the idea that human potential is limitless, but we must exercise our cognitive abilities with new tools and experiences, thus maximizing different types of intelligence through new educational approaches. The new era of education is all about the so-called “matter of becoming.”
Technology and Human Rights Consultant