I attended the QS Reimagine Education Conference in Philadelphia in December 2022, my seventh year in a row attending, and this blog post is about what I think are the most important takeaways for our 6 – 20 learners’ education in N. America for the next five to ten years.
- Innovation IS the curriculum. Every single classroom is an incubator of ideas and projects, and every single school and district is an accelerator for sustainable student and teacher projects. In K-12, school districts need to support teachers as innovators and as coaches, guiding teams of students and individuals through various processes and artistic endeavour and scientific exploration in pursuit of solutions to problems that matter to our youth.
- The main competencies necessary for success are problem-solving, flexibility, agility, resilience, leadership, collaboration, and creativity, among others. AI will do much of the computational and analytical ‘heavy lifting’, but students need to work in teams to accomplish sustainable solutions to problems that matter to them – always with empathy at the core.
- Artificial intelligence will augment teamwork and problem-solving, but it lacks heart and empathy, the centre of design thinking, and empathy is what must drive our public education system to support our democratic values.
- Web3 incentivizes student work and collaboration by ensuring attribution and ownership in the work that youth do in and outside of school, driving increased reputation and access to more opportunities, and in some cases ownership of IP and/or community assets.
- Learners need to meta-cognize their competency performance, and thus we need to better measure and communicate these competencies which will be crucial for learners to effectively participate in online (meta/eduverse) and offline learning networks, communities, and events, including classrooms.
- We can help combat disinformation – a key destabilizer of democracy – by providing many more opportunities for critical thinking and creativity for our learners – the arts and science do this – full STEAM ahead!
- AI might have a brain, but it lacks heart (for now) – heart makes us human, and heart (seen as empathy) is at the core of design thinking – we need to find our hearts again, and give youth hope for the future and some joy back in their lives, and we can help as educators, families, and school systems by modelling sustainable innovation and gratitude daily.
- Public schools in support of democracy need to encourage and support student voice, student happiness, and student change making, by giving them as many opportunities to engage in experiential learning, play, art and STEAM-based activities, and immersive learning – anything that gets students working in groups collaboratively to solve problems and develop their global competencies.
- Sustainability – anything and everything to do with sustainability counts. Youth care about sustainable practices and we must engage indigenous communities more in these conversations and projects.
Signs are mixed right now that things will change for the better in our public schools, and I remain hopeful that we can work together to avoid ‘the creep’ back to our old ways of doing things, which were evidently not successful.
This blog post serves as both a notice and reminder to me of what we should be doing as responsible adults and caregivers to support our youth to be creative and resilient innovators, and ultimately happy and hopeful human beings with agency and voice.
I have been a member of Reimagine Education since 2016, and as a judge and delegate have been in tune with global education efforts of all kinds – from government sponsored initiatives, to HigherEd programming, to global EdTech companies innovating scaled platforms, to brave individual innovators doing their best to help change the world.
Modelling innovation is one of the most important things we can do as educators and mentors, and so we all must become good at it, with empathy and heart, and our learners will follow suit.
As far as public education goes, compliance is out – at least in North America where we need learners to be the creators, visionary entrepreneurs and artists, but also critical consumers and producers of media that support our democratic values.
These above takeaways inform my programming as a middle school teacher in Toronto while myself, my students, and my school community try to better anticipate change and prepare for it. Any feedback is welcome, thanks for reading.
Rich B, January 8, 2023
Innovation in Education is a blog dedicated to innovating education. All work posted on this website is free to use under a Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International(CC BY-NC 4.0). All opinions and views expressed here are of the Principal.
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