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What Will My New Grandchild Have Learned by 2030?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Equinox Summit: Learning 2030 focuses on the future of high school education, a future that will be influenced by the wider landscape of education issues; from informal to formal education, primary to post-secondary.

In this Learning 2030 Blog entry, explore what a leader in informal science education and grandmother sees for the future of her grandchild – a high school graduate of 2030.

Image © bengrey

by Leonie Rennie, Learning 2030 Blog Contributor

My grandchildren were born in 2013. What should they have learned by the time they graduate from high school in 2030? 

It’s certain that whatever they learn, much of it will have been learned outside of traditional schooling. 

Already adolescents have, in one device, in their hand:
• a phone • camera • TV • radio • computer • GPS • a library for music and video • and a tool for games

An age of touch-screen education

Traditional divisions of media are collapsing as visual and broadcast media, computer games, and the printed word become available for download to a single mobile device. 

Students at all stages do not need to attend school classes to learn. Schools will have a hard time remaining interesting and relevant if they don’t find ways to better include these media as part of the learning process. 

While crossing the boundaries between in-school and out-of-school learning is facilitated by wirelessly connected mobile devices, the challenge for schools is to find ways to help this happen.

Learning whenever there’s a chance to learn

Learning in school should be designed to enable students to become scientifically and technologically literate citizens, who have the knowledge, skills, desire, and confidence to deal effectively with issues that arise that concern them. Not only in their school years but in their adult lives as well. 

This means whatever students learn at school, they should be able to retrieve or find information, assess its relevance, and apply it to the situation or problem at hand. 

Students need practice to do this and that means bridging the gap between school and life in the community outside of school. 

Remodelling education

Research and experience have shown that bridging this gap is not easy. Here are just of the two reasons why:

1. The “real world” is interdisciplinary, not unidisciplinary as suggested by school timetables describing individual subjects as if they were mutually exclusive. Situations or problems occurring in students’ lives outside of school will be multidisciplinary. In order to understand and find answers, knowledge from different subjects will need to be integrated. If students are to learn how to do this, explicit connections need to be made between school knowledge and community issues. 

2. Linking school into community issues introduces values, such as social and environmental responsibility, and political and economic considerations that determine how society deals with problems and issues. Students will need to engage in critique and debate, and to evaluate and communicate ways that these problems and issues can be addressed.

Falling behind in the world outside of school

Whatever happens in formal schooling, change so far looks like it is likely to be slow, despite a few beacons here and there. 

Change is happening much more quickly outside of school, and as mobile technologies advance, it is the youth who advance with them.

Digital-age students set to graduate from high school in 2030 will need opportunities to learn in ways that that are consistent with how they are learning outside of school and they’ll need skills to determine what is worth knowing. 

If they’re lucky, the high-school graduates of 2030 will know how to filter-out the misleading and irrelevant from the worthwhile on the digital landscape, they will use that landscape to inform decisions based on evidence, and they will use critical judgement to attend to the well-being of themselves, others, and the environment in which they live.

Curtain University Emeritus Professor Leonie Rennie has made contributions “from oceans to Outback” to equity in science education and education in out-of-school settings in AustraliaHer latest book is Knowledge That Counts in a Global Community: Exploring the Contribution of Integrated Curriculum.