We are living through a time of unprecedented technological advance, with cultural and societal shifts creating mass uncertainty and in many cases, fear. Scientists, politicians and futurists in several fields predict various outcomes for the world of work, from optimistic to dire, but the global consensus is that something has to be done.
In June 2018, Australia’s Youth Unemployment Rate was 11.3%, compared to a national average of 5.4%. The trend toward part-time employment and casualisation continues. This puts increased pressure on employment agencies, human resources, strategic planners and, of course, education.
It’s no secret that teachers want their students to be happy, confident, aware of their skills and capable of overcoming challenges. Education theory is a fluid, responsive field that has always aimed to balance student wellbeing with society’s needs – but how do we educate for needs we don’t even know we’ll have? In a world of extreme uncertainty, how can we be sure that what we’re doing is right?
The answer lies with the students.
Teacher optimism is important. Generating excitement about the future is vital. Neither of these things is even close to enough. Parents, teachers, industry representatives, politicians – we can tell young people about the future we envision all we like, and we should certainly talk about it, but it’s their future. It will be their creativity, their design, their decision-making and problem-solving that turn what’s possible now into reality.
Although the definition of “best practice” in education varies widely from nation to nation, state to state - sometimes even school to school – the one common factor, certainly in recent years, is a student focus. Student-centred learning assists and encourages the learner to make meaningful connections between prior knowledge and new information, in contexts that are authentic and relevant to the individual. It is collaborative, reflective and requires intrinsic motivation.
This is BECOME. By building students’ awareness of themselves and the world, by encouraging them to identify and pursue their aspirations, and by granting them the agency to design their own future, BECOME is changing the way young people position themselves in relation to the future. Students learn to view themselves as explorers; rather than learning the skills required for a single career path, they identify areas of interest and design experiments to discover more about the world of work and about themselves. Students learn to recognise that extrinsic motivations such as prizes and awards, while nice, are not the main purpose for pursuing success. With BECOME, students become the best possible version of themselves.
Nobody can remove the uncertainty from the future. Change is the only constant, and we can only control the decisions we make when it happens to us. This is the goal: positive, confident students, aware of their skills and capable of overcoming challenges. The same as it’s always been.
Bol, Erica (6 August 2018) Teach the Future jfsdigital.org/2018/08/06/teach-the-future accessed 8 August 2018
Chadwick, Jonathan (3 August 2018) Curtin University students develop 3-D printable toolkit for life on Mars www.zdnet.com/article/curtin-university-students-develop-3d-printable-digital-toolkit-for-life-on-mars
Farquhar, Peter (10 August 2018) Rise of the Robot Butchers, Business Insider Australia www.businessinsider.com.au/robot-butchers-2018-8 accessed 11 August 2018
Reed, Tim (30 July 2018) MYOB CEO Tim Reed says Australia is deeply divided over its AI future, Financial Review www.afr.com/opinion/columnists/its-a-deeply-divided-australia-that-faces-its-ai-future-20180730-h13c83 accessed 11 August 2018
New skills that are needed by industry “are interpersonal skills, creative skills, decision-making capabilities and information synthesis” according to SEEK
Trading Economics www.tradingeconomics.com accessed 12 August 2018