Uploaded by Dylan Langheim

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WORDS: LISA WITEPSKI
FUTURE-FOCUSED LEARNING
Your children
will have very different career options from yours, so what and how they’re taught must
he
be different too. Are South African education institutions keeping up with our changing world?
T
hink about your childhood classroom. Hands up
if it featured rows of desks carefully positioned
so that everyone could see clearly when you
needed to copy from the overhead projector.
Now consider this: your kids have probably
never even seen an overhead projector, which is exactly as it
should be. The education system of your day was developed
with an industrial economy in mind. Since we’ve moved into
an information economy, it’s definitely time for a change.
But what does this really mean?
A NEW APPROACH
Mampho Langa, Head of Schools at Future Nations
Schools, notes that the evolution of our economic and
political realities means that a different approach, which
looks beyond classroom practices and encourages deeper
learning to education, is required. Stated simply, students
need to drive their own learning through investigation,
research and collaboration. “This approach closely mimics
the world we live in. We need to develop critical thinkers,
innovators, risk-takers and entrepreneurs. Education
must not focus only on knowledge acquisition, but should
incorporate technology, engineering, coding and other
forms of computing,” says Langa.
Should this digital competence come at the expense
of more traditional skills, such as cursive writing? It’s a
74 Sawubona May 2018
question many global educators are puzzling over. As
Director of Technology at Oakhill School, Dylan Langheim
is clearly a proponent of digital competence: he’s overseen
a programme that equips every pupil at the school with a
device. He doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but he
does note that the ability to “unlearn” is one that will serve
the next generation well. “It’s impossible to know whether
– or when – traditional skills will become antiquated, but
I agree with Alvin Toffler’s assessment that the ‘illiterate of
the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write,
but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn’,” he says.
For Jess Schulschenk, Director at the Sustainability
Institute, flexibility is the key word. “Since our children
will grow into adults who’ll need to navigate a world that
changes rapidly, technical skill and content are no longer
enough. Instead, teachers need to be able to help develop
individuals who feel comfortable with complexity and not
having the answers – who take the time to truly listen and
grapple with what’s unfolding around them,” she says.
Interestingly, this means that schools should be placing
a spotlight on soft skills – the very areas that have been
neglected in the past so that teachers could spend more
time on concrete subjects like maths and science. “We’re
not saying that these aren’t important,” says Kyle Dodds of
Cognition Tutoring, “but in a world where the repetitive
tasks are handled by technology and artificial intelligence,
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