The way we generate wealth and the skill sets required to contribute to this are key elements in any economy. In the past, economic activity was determined by the combination of natural resources, labour, and capital. This view is now challenged by consideration of the value of things such as technology and creativity, giving rise to alternative views such as the concept of a knowledge economy.
Economic trends affecting schools/kura that have emerged over recent years include:
- Computational Thinking — The impact of STEM on curriculum, coding, the drive for skills for employment vs holistic education outcomes for all, and play-based curriculum.
- Future workforce — it’s well established that the days of leaving school to take up a job for life have now past. We’re often confronted with predictions of today’s learners facing seven career changes in their lifetime, and of young people holding a portfolio of work rather than a single job. Our understandings of what work might look like, what jobs there will be and what patterns of work future workers will engage in must be considered and accounted for in our programmes for learners. Responses to these questions may require significant change to our current way of thinking about curriculum, assessment, subjects, and pedagogy.
- Sustainability — after decades of thinking about growth, expansion and embracing new technology at any cost, there is a growing concern now about focusing on approaches that are sustainable — particularly in terms of ecologically, environmentally, culturally etc.
- New forms of schooling and roles for teachers
- “Open-ness” — traditional models of operating emphasise the notion of private ‘ownership’ (of ideas and material things). This paradigm is being challenged by a greater level of open-ness and sharing, and the establishment of new ways of defining ownership such as the Creative Commons licensing of ideas and material goods.
2017 special focus examples:
- STEM — there’s currently a surge of interest in programmes targetting Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, focusing on educators and others looking at where the jobs are right now and trying to make education fit — but who knows what other skills might be necessary in 20 years from now? The drivers behind STEM are a significant contributor to the development, in New Zealand, of the recently announced Digital Technologies Curriculum, and the steady rise in interest and participation in things such as the Maker Movement and CodeClub etc.
- Automation — the steady rise in automation of tasks that are repetitive or routine has been occurring since the start of the industrial revolution. Only recently, as the level of technical sophistication combined with advances in artificial intelligence has grown exponentially, have we seen tasks previously considered unable to be automated now being taken over by robots with a wide range of ‘pseudo-human’ characteristics. In education, this includes a potential growth in human-machine interfaces that are capable of providing much more personalised, accurate and timely responses than a teacher with a class of 20 plus learners.
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