World Prepared Graduates

I am writing this month’s article in the middle of NAPLAN week. As you would already be aware these are the literacy and numeracy tests that stop every school in the nation for the middle week in May every year. While collecting data about student performance is a useful pursuit, schooling today is more than just meeting the literacy and numeracy benchmarks. It is also about creating opportunities beyond the classroom. Schooling is about “world preparedness”.

I was reading a future employment report recently, where the takeaway message was about the impact robots and AI are currently having on the job market and will possibly have in the future. The throw-away line in the article I recall was “the robots are coming, the robots are coming”.

Martin Ford, the futurist and author of “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future”, explains that only some roles will be under threat. The routine, repetitive and predictable roles. He highlights a handful of jobs including tax preparation, telemarketers, loans officers, taxi drivers and fast food cooks are high on the replacement list. He also notes that other roles that involve genuine creativity or are complex in nature, will be too difficult for AI to master in the next 20 to 30 years. These roles could include artists, business entrepreneurs, scientists, and medical professionals.

With this information, let’s redefine was schooling is for. The only way to future-proof your child’s employment is to develop adaptable, critical and creative skills.  A school’s overriding goal should continue to ensure the full and individual development of every student as a whole person, through the realisation of academic, physical and cultural aspirations. However, this mission of schooling also needs to include a dynamic and adaptable education that encourages problem-solving, creativity, complex critical thinking and also needs to be rich with a variety of experiences. There needs to be an element of struggle in this journey as well. This will help students develop their own resilience factors.

My educational philosophy centres around opportunities for the child. It is a nature versus nurture debate but essentially if students are exposed to engaging experiences and placed in activities that put them outside of their comfort zone, then they start doing things for themselves, they will struggle, they will grow, and they will develop a set of skills and a mindset that will prepare them for a future of change.

Schools need to be providing this through outdoor education experiences, sporting competitions, music workshops, language immersion days and tours, service learning connections into the local community, and creating opportunities for students to engage with people for a variety of different fields of endeavours. Schools can help create students that are world prepared. That is certainly our mission.

Source: Ford, M. (2016). Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. New York: Basic Books.


Nick Johnstone