The Future of Learning


Just yesterday I went through some feedback I got from my students, those bright 20-25 years old that are creating their own future. Feedback and discussions with them confirmed again something that has dawned to me very strongly: the way we want to learn is taking a new shape in times of multiple sources of information, wonderful new technologies and our innate inclination to work together.

Let me give you an example: last spring me and my students went to visit Nokia for a day. We heard their view of what has happened in the company and of their future prospects.  Then my students worked together to build their view of what went wrong with Nokia and how they could gain back their touch for their clients needs, wishes and sense of wonder. In their reports, they did a wonderful job by pointing out how the world has changed and how Nokia could make a great leap forward with certain moves.

What really happened was: they got some good information, a thrilling case of the real world and chance to work together by using their own brains. Coming back to feedback from last week: the greatest negative feedback comes where ever there is a feeling of too much unilateral talk and not enough creative work in terms of debating and building up thesis together.  Teacher need to be less of a teacher but more of a mentor and coach, helping to point out something interesting and providing structure and means to create.

Actually this takes us back to our school system. How could we help our kids in the school to use their creative skills right from the beginning? Having gone through Steiner school I might have a bit biased view on this. But it is the very same thing that freezes our current working life: if people are  able to express themselves in fulfilling and self-actualizing ways, they are doing well. All didactic and pedagogical development should point to this direction.

The Pisa results are not everything. Much more important indicator would be how happy pupils are in the school, how well their need to be creative and find new things are being fulfilled? I venture to say these standpoints holds true in all levels of education as well as in working life. And what is good news really is that ultimately this is a rather simple matter itself and can be transferred to various frames.

Some people might ask at this point: okey, what about the ever increasing competitive environment that forces kids and students to spend more time with their books to keep up in the rat race? What if "soft" methods produce pupils that are not ready to fight in the labor market?  I guess the only answer is: we have to raise our kids and students to  realize their are the game changers of their own lives. When we equip them with those meta-skills that are actually more and more in need of in our current working life, such as  ability to find creative solutions or work in teams, you have now problem to find your place in the current and future labor market.

The future of learning will be thrilling because it will take us far from "industrial society" forms of learning.  All it needs, whether you are parent, teacher or employer, is to be courageous enough to feed these in-built needs  for being creative in our fellow human beings.