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In an exclusive article for NIS Magazine, his thoughts on the school of future shares Nikola Božić, the programme director at Petnica Research Centre, proudly supported by our company for entire decade.
Modern world changes so fast that it is close to impossible to anticipate demands of society in foreseeable future, much less for a longer periods. In just recent decade that has seen the emergence of smart phones our lives changed so tremendously that it would look a genuine science fiction had it been broadcast at the end of the twentieth century to the viewers of the “Beyond 2000“ show
Education serves to prepare future generations to become involved in the historical development of civilization, to understand fundamental concepts that function in nature and society, to be aware of the past, to see the future, but also to prepare for new unknown challenges that are yet to emerge. If the speed of development of society, technology and their connection is so fast that it is difficult to look at the next decade, let alone in the next century, the question is: – What kind of education we need today to prepare future generations to be able to survive and develop.
Both the academic community and the world of businessmen predict that in the next twenty years at least 30% of all current professions will be replaced by technology (CIO, 2016). Yet, unlike the Industrial Revolution, which led to the replacement of physical workforce by the machines, these today will lead to the replacement of highly educated people. This is why the question of the future of education becomes even more important.
It should be borne in mind that the education system takes about 16 years on average to prepare an individual to be a quality professional, and for the next 40 years to be successful and productive. As technologies change rapidly and evolve, it is increasingly difficult to provide the education and training system with the skills and knowledge to follow technological change through the decades of life. Currently, education programs worldwide are at least one generation behind the needs of today’s job market.
A large amount of data is being produced in this age of knowledge. Thus, it is estimated that in 2020, each person will produce 1.7 MB of data per second (DOMO Report, 2018). In the last two years, we have produced 90% of all data since the emergence of civilization. This suggests that education can no longer be based on factual knowledge. We cannot increase the volume of school materials to keep up with social change and technological innovation.
Education serves to prepare future generations to become involved in the historical development of civilization, to understand fundamental concepts that function in nature and society, to be aware of the past, to see the future, but also to prepare for new unknown challenges that are yet to emerge.
Let us remember that the format of the school originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. School classes and school attendance were designed to socialize boys and girls who did not have much contact with many of their peers at the time. School bells and sitting in benches behind each other played a role in disciplining future workers and preparing them for work in factories and working hours. The repetition of facts and knowledge from a book or the head of a professor was intended to pass on the former knowledge and skills to new generations. Back then, all that was enough to go forward.
Many things in society have, naturally, changed; of course, the school has changed too. Today it is much more interactive, the students’ relations with their authorities are freer, even the classroom model has changed. However, these changes have more closely followed the current course of development, but not enough for today’s schools (and colleges) to be an adequate preparation for the future to come.
One of the mechanisms for advancing a country’s local education system may be the search for a successful model that delivers results at other points on the planet. However, the copy / paste method is not enough.
There are many reasons why some education system is successful. One should also bear in mind the cultural characteristics of the people and the state, the socio-economic situation, family relations, climatic and geographical characteristics, historical development, the relationship of society to education and teachers and professors, the labour market… All this should be considered when looking for a model that may improve another local education system.
Still, the problem is much more global here. The crisis of educational institutions is planetary. Are there in fact successful education systems when we consider all of the above? It came to the point that basic educational and academic paradigms needed to be changed. So there is much more to be done than gentle adaptations, program changes, facts, or ways of working. Everywhere. All over the world.
It is crucial for us to understand that education is no longer part of life and its very beginning, but becomes part of all life stages. Continuing education, continuous information in the area of expertise, working on your own skills without interruption, monitoring other areas are key traits of successful people in the decades ahead. A degree is no longer the goal, but it is not a guarantee of lifelong success. Only constant work and stay up-to-date with changes and changes guarantees performance.
What can the school then provide us with and in what direction should it be developed? Certainly, it remains for the school to introduce new generations to phenomena, phenomena, processes, interconnections, basic facts about the world around us, about nature, about society, about technologies…
What the school of today needs to teach its students is critical thinking, problem solving, science interdisciplinary interconnected, collaboration skills and communication skills.
Critical thinking is at the core of today’s human existence. When one learns how to draw the right conclusions from the facts, how to test the appropriate assumptions and hypotheses using the scientific method, how to deal with the false in the sea of facts and understand the real ones, then the person is ready to face all new and unknown challenges.
Nurturing creativity, seeing the bigger picture, thinking outside the box are the traits that must adorn a modern man. Being able to define a problem, see all its parts and look at it from different angles, and then creatively solve such a problem, is a characteristic of a successful individual in the time ahead.
Role specialisation is a long past. A kind of renaissance is the need of the 21st century. Today, we need to be well informed about different areas of social action, to relate facts and knowledge to one another, and to look at reality in an interdisciplinary way.
Teamwork should be nurtured from a young age. It is very important that everyone is aware of their own qualities that help the group function or make the group weaker. It is important to know and manage these qualities well and to improve them. Teamwork skills can be rehearsed, making them more capable of adapting to changes that can happen at any time in their professional lives.
How to communicate your needs, your knowledge, your conclusions, your own views is a very important feature of capable professionals. Communication skills, both verbal and written, academic and every day, both administrative and professional, should be nurtured on a daily basis.
The school of the future should not try to teach students everything that follows, because it is not even possible. The school of the future should prepare everything to be independent, able to adapt, to meet all the challenges… The school of the future should teach above all how to learn.