This week, School Stream is taking a deep dive into the ideas around a ‘futures orientated’ school and unpack some of the key concepts with help from educational experts around the web. No doubt, you will find practices your school is already engaged in.

We know you’re busy. Click here to read the School Communication Report or keep reading for our overview on futures orientated schools.

Futures focussed means preparing students for their future in a world of AI and job automation

First up; what does ‘futures orientated’ even mean? Other terms you will have heard used interchangeably during PD are ‘futures focussed’, ‘future proof education’ and ’21st century skills’. At entry level, each of these terms refer to the necessity of preparing students for an unknowable future where job automation and technology will be ever more integrated. To a certain degree, the question remains the same for educators as it ever has: what skills can we give our students to best prepare them for their future?

Continuous education is one of the most important components of success

Futurist and AI Expert Martin Ford thinks the best way to avoid being sidelined by job automation in the future is to avoid jobs, skills and training where the tasks are repetitive, predictable and routine. He suggests focussing energy on roles that are either creative, human centred or focus on skilled trade work. His thoughts on the key to success?

“One very important part of adapting is to realize that future careers will nearly all require continuous learning. So whether you are concerned with yourself or your children, a focus on learning—getting good at it and truly enjoying it—will be one of the most important components of success.”

The four Cs are still relevant but need a new context

A focus on these areas gives us some real insights into what and how we can adapt our teaching to support students for the future. If you plug the words “future education school” into your favourite search engine, you will come up with a collection of words along the lines of Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking. Nothing new here. Teachers have always focussed on these skills, however education leaders are arguing that these same skills mean very different things in 2019. So should we be teaching them differently? What would this look like in the classroom?

Anywhere, anytime learning mirrors real-world collaboration

RMIT School of Education Professor Tricia McLaughlin argues that ‘anywhere, anytime learning’ is going to be a big change for education in the near future and will better reflect the realities of life beyond the classroom. Working with other students via the internet, whether they are in a different classroom or on the other side of the world, is essentially the 2019 equivalent of working on a poster or group report back in the days of yore. At a practical level, students need to learn about communicating online in different contexts and in different ways. How do we communicate using an image on Instagram? What do students need to know about being a good digital citizen? How do you make contact with someone you’d like to work with via social
media?

Problem finders are the new problem solvers

Critical thinking is a key skill that has also undergone a shift in recent time, with ‘problem finders’ being touted as the new problem solvers. What does this mean? Author and educator Ewan McIntosh believes that problem finding is the key to student engagement and provides a depth of learning that has students as true partners in guiding their own learning. He gives the example of ‘a Brisbane primary school who chose to explore living for 24 hours without technology to immerse themselves not just in what makes technology so vital, but also the challenges and problems to our wellbeing that technology brings’.

There will always be a place for teacher-led learning, but things are changing fast

There is certainly plenty of change afoot, but one thing is for sure. Teachers do a tremendous job all day, every day.

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