Our education system

Do you worry about the future of your child?

Do you worry that sending them into university is no longer a guaranteed way to get them into good jobs?

You should. As there are more and more graduate holders, the value of holding a degree to differentiate yourself diminishes. Technology is advancing so fast that the future is highly unpredictable. Elon Musk recently announces that he has plan to send human to Mars in 2024.

In view of such future, what do you need to do to prepare your child for the future?

Just this week, I attend EduTECHAsia conference, a conference where top-leading educators share their insights. Most of the speakers are from North America, Europe and Australasia region. Even though Singapore prides herself for the first-class infrastructure, why is there a minority representation of the education system in Singapore in a conference that takes place in Singapore?

After listening to some of these speakers, I feel that Singapore education system is still chasing up in terms of building our students to be future ready.

Currently, our education is still deep rooted in the first industrial revolution, which is a transition from agrarian lifestyle to industrial and urban.

This is the age whereby most people are having jobs in factories and the ability to survive is mostly proportionate to their ability to sit, listen, obey and do. Sounds familiar?

The fourth industrial revolution

Right now, we are in the fourth industrial revolution. The fourth industrial revolution builds on the digital revolution, the third industrial revolution. Digital revolution refers to the advancement of technology from analog electronic and mechanical devices to the digital technology available today.

In the fourth industrial revolution, we are seeing emerging technology breakthroughs in many fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, Internet of Things 3D printing, etc.

In this age, we, as a human race, will see many incredible feats, happening exponentially.

Take Bitcoin for an example. From 2009-2010, their value is almost non-existent. However at 2013, their value shot up to $1242. More incredibly, within a time span of 4 years, it is currently valued above $6000. At least a 600% jump in value within 4 years.

So what does it all means for our children? It means that there is a high chance that when they grow up, there will be disappearance of a huge number of jobs. At the same time, there will be new jobs created, that will require a very different set of skills.

4 takeaways from EduTECHAsia

In view of all that is happening, here are my 4 major takeaways from the EduTECHAsia.

1. Inculcate curiosity and engage the students

Technology has changed how we learn. Most of the skills that I am applying in my work are self-taught or learned through the internet. We are living in a world that knowledge is no longer a premium. It is ubiquitous. Due to the pace that the students are receiving information, students become disengaged more easily. As a preschool sports coach, I observe that children are keen learners.

We need creative thinkers and we need to rethink the foundation of our education system.

2. Promote innovation

This is a common theme in the conference. It is not just that the student need to learn to be innovative. The teachers, principals and leaders need to integrate innovation into the school. Our curriculum need to be supplemented with problem-based learning. Students need to be given space to explore and tackle problems on their own.

Knowledge is great but application is king.

3. Embrace failure

As a society, we are generally risk adverse. The notion of failure is perhaps only experience through test and assessment. But I think we could agree our professional life is more than tests and exams. It is about the continual capability for us to pick up challenge, redefine problems and test out our solutions. In this process, most of us are going to fail more than one time. School, being a safe-guarded ground, should be empowering students to embrace the trial and error mindset. This will build resilience and self-confidence that comes from learning from mistakes and surviving failure. Teach the kids the concept of “failing forward”.

Failing is part of the iteration to approaching proficiency.

4. Play is important

Nowadays kids are being chauffeured from places to places. Their schedule could be even busier than some of the adults. It is very important for educators and parents to differentiate forced education and facilitated exploratory play. There is a tendency for parents to want to mould their kids to a certain vision the parents have in their mind.

Each child is unique, and so their preferences could differ greatly from their parents.

As educators and parents, our role is to encourage creative playfulness. On one hand, we want to expose our kids to new interests. On the other hand, we must keep in mind that sending our kids to these enrichment classes shouldn’t dampen their love of learning.

We have to encourage exploratory play, play that encourages curiosity and inquiry. Because from exploratory play, our children might discover their passion. And from passion, there could be a probability that it will transform into a purpose in their life.