Since I was at school, 15 years ago, things have changed enormously. Even on a superficial level my old school is unrecognisable to me now. Gone are the blackboards and rickety old VHS players. In their place are interactive whiteboards, tablets, and more gadgets than even my tech-hungry 16-year-old self could have dreamed of.
These new teaching tools reflect a world that’s changed extremely fast. From the way we communicate to the way we do business, shop, vote, work, and play, the internet and its associated tech has transformed everything.
Everything except for the curriculum.
Ok, there have been some changes to the curriculum. It gets reviewed every few years, and tweaked to bring it in line with the modern world. For example, things like IT and cyberskills get more precedence now than they used to.
However, the basics remain the same. In a world that’s changed beyond recognition from even a decade ago, we’re still teaching the same stuff that our parents and grandparents learned.
That’s not to say that the old curriculum is worthless. Children will always need a grasp of literacy, numeracy, and so on in order to succeed. However, if school is meant to prepare children for the future, isn’t it time to give the traditional curriculum a thorough revamp? We can’t expect children to thrive in this rapidly changing world with skills and mindsets from 50 years ago.
What should a new, future-proof curriculum focus on? Let’s take a look.
In 2018, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) mapped out a vision for the future of learning to 2030. In their opening statement they said that;
“We are facing unprecedented challenges – social, economic and environmental – driven by accelerating globalisation and a faster rate of technological developments. At the same time, those forces are providing us with myriad new opportunities for human advancement.”
Since then, we can add ‘pandemic’ and all the unexpected changes Covid-19 brought in its wake to that list. If even in 2018 the OECD saw an urgent need for changes to education, that need is twice as urgent in 2021.
Today’s world changes and adapts fast. To thrive in this constantly shifting world, the people of the future will need flexible, adaptable mindsets. The OECD recommends that any future curriculum encourages open and curious minds. For example, rather than rote learning, the OECD believes that students should learn through exploration and discovery.
In times of uncertainty, curiosity and a willingness to try new things can make a huge difference. A curriculum that encourages agile, creative thinking will help to build resilient, problem-solving mindsets.
Kids have been taught about climate science and so on since the environmental crisis became clear in the 80s. However, just teaching the facts about climate change is no longer enough. We need to help today’s kids understand that resources are not limitless.
In the 2030s, when today’s learners become adults, there are likely to be widespread resource shortages, coupled with growing environmental pressures. The students of today will need mindsets that value sustainability and co-operation over exploitation.
Organisations like the Green Schools Alliance recommend a curriculum that focuses less on competitive success, and more on empathetic co-operation. To build a sustainable mindset, you need to do more than teach kids about recycling. You need to help them understand the kinds of principles and values that lead to sustainable practices.
For example, encouraging kids to be sharing and compassionate at a young age can help to build caring, community-focused values. Ultimately, this will help the people of tomorrow to share and care for an increasingly limited planet.
It seems obvious to say that modern curricula should focus on technology. Technology plays such a huge role in modern life - it would be extremely short sighted not to teach at least basic tech skills in school.
The problem is that technology changes at an incredibly rapid rate. For example, my IT lessons in school were all about CD roms and Microsoft Encarta. It’s fair to say that the ‘IT skills’ I learned at school are basically irrelevant by this point.
How can we be sure that we’re not wasting valuable learning time teaching tech skills that will be obsolete within five years?
The answer might lie in integrating technology into learning. Sure, we can teach kids the foundation skills they’ll need to use and evolve with technology (many schools are now offering coding lessons, for example) - but we can develop the kind of agile and adaptable tech skills kids need by being agile and adaptive with our own teaching tech.
Letting kids learn on the latest, frequently updated tech will give them the agency needed to adapt in line with technological development.
Kinteract is designed to keep you on track with all curriculum goals. Whatever the curriculum you’re using, Kinteract will help you set and achieve goals, recommend next steps, and help you and your students to get the very best out of what the curriculum provides.
To learn more about what Kinteract can do for you, book a demo today.