The big technological development has created a new environment, which has changed the requirements that the economy has on skills and knowledge for success in the workplace. Above all, the focus on skills compared to knowledge today weighs more heavily, as we are in a rapid phase of development of technologies which constantly cause changes in the workplace, and employees are required to constantly adapt, find new solutions and have creativity.
In other words, today schools need to prepare new generations for jobs that do not yet exist, so all the attention is on developing critical thinking, problem-solving skills, adapting to new environments and creative skills.
Developing skills on the other hand is not a simple process! It is no longer the job of schools just to ensure that students have knowledge in certain areas, now the focus should shift to using knowledge to achieve an objective, a result, to solve a concrete problem.
To illustrate, here are two examples / scenarios:
*scenarios are not technology related, for simplification of the explanation
- Scenario 1: Students go to school, and during a class, the teacher asks to solve problem X. e.g. to grow a plant.The teacher then begins to explain the conditions under which the plant grows, gives a detailed explanation of each condition and what effect it has on the plant, and asks students to apply the acquired knowledge in a practical way. Moreover, students have the task of simulating the required conditions, and then analyzing the results in case of failure and success.
- Scenario 2: Students go to school, and during a class, the teacher asks them to learn about plant X. The teacher spends most of his time in the classroom explaining various plant phenomena, and talking about growth conditions. Students are required to memorize all the information, and to be able to re-explain in order to succeed in class.
Given these two scenarios it is clear that having the student in front of a problem for which the limitations are known and asking him/her to find a solution is a typical example of the work that 21st century schools need to do - compared to typical scenarios of our schools, where students are explained concepts for a topic, and are required to be able to elaborate on the topic. And more in the second scenario, because access to information today is extremely easy, memorizing knowledge without a practical aspect is even more devalued.
This positioning in the classroom puts students in a position where the battle to understand the concepts is one of the easiest, while the emphasis falls on 'How to apply these concepts to achieve the result' - and this positioning is very powerful as that pushes students to think broader, deeper and transcend the content of what they are learning by asking themselves to apply the knowledge gained in a practical scenario. This process and the environment triggers the development of skills that 21st century jobs require!
Technology in this case is the main and easiest door to implement in order to encourage students to work in this way. In addition to gaining fundamental knowledge of the architecture and operating principles of technology, which in itself gives you the edge for success, they can manage to practice this problem-solving cycle much more often, much faster and very practically.
Moreover, the greatest success of practicing and developing these skills in students is achieved by starting work in this way from an early age, preferably starting from the first grade.
This is the best age for many reasons, the most important are:
- Creativity and original thinking are still present at this age, to a large extent
- Gender stereotypes are not formed
Considering this, if this kind of work is applied in schools, then the solution of the problem of gender imbalance in technical areas will naturally be overcome, giving space to girls from an early age to gain experience in this work and have a personal opinion from their own experience, and not by risking the decision in adulthood, a decision which is favoured by girls who lack experience, and with stereotypical thoughts already formed, make a career decision.
To sum up, I strongly recommend that every school and every parent take an active role in demanding their children / students to prepare for school for 21st century jobs - which will require problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills and creativity!