Are we prepared for the 4th Industrial Age?
By Simone Moolman
This time last year, did you ever think we would be in this "Covid-19" situation? Neither did I, yet here we are. So my question is, what do you think the world is going to look like, for us or our children, in one year, or two or even 10 years? With that said, there is a global consensus that education systems are out of sync with the transitions the world is facing today. Technological advances are moving at such a pace, that the need for a human workforce is slowly dissipating.
Technology will surpass the technicians who created it and itself be the engineer of future advances. Artificial intelligence, as hard as it may be for some to fathom, will eventually become capable of performing tasks that software engineers would normally do. So, is it not time we started focusing on the true importance of what it is to be human? In the parts of the world with established infrastructures there is a direct flow of current events and knowledge, allowing for shared best practices and in turn a collective understanding, as a society on what steps need to be taken going further into the future, as individuals and as a united force. At the heart of this understanding; sustainability, health, mind-set, meditation and values take precedence.
In ‘21 Lessons for the 21st Century’, Yuval Harari, the philosopher and historian, points out the shift in what role humans play on earth. If jobs are to become less and we connect more and more through technology, how we nourish ourselves, our emotional intelligence, and the way we connect with others will take precedence, remarking that, “maybe we need to turn a switch in our minds and realise that taking care of a child is arguably the most important and challenging job in the world.” The question is, how does a country like South Africa with an overabundance of problems catch up to the rapid transitions the rest of the world is preparing for?
The point of needing to focus more on advancing the way in which we educate, coming to terms with the past and focusing on our collective mind-set is now a priority. Harari also outlines how critical thinking and skills such as adaptability will soon far outweigh the traditional academic education of today, placing emphasis on critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.
These four skills are widely regarded by leaders in business and education as the key to a student’s success in the 21st century workplace and are the basis to a global movement, recognising the need for students to adapt to the rapid shift into the digital age. These skills are not information based and require a vastly different approach to the current industrial-age learning of South Africa’s education system. Ironically South Africans have started embracing alternative teaching methods not for the reasons of technological advances but because of the state the government school system is in.
There may be hope, as many parents turn to private institutes, non-profit-organisations and home schooling methods in the hope of providing their children with a better education than the state offers. Covid-19 has been a further catalyst in this regard forcing students to adapt to remote learning and parents to, playing a more active role in educating their children necessary life skills.
The many private institutes that have popped up across South Africa have been described by the Centre of Development and Enterprise as South Africa’s “hidden assets” and are the clear way forward if we are to keep up with the fast paced transitions occurring. Private organisations such as the Generation Schools who use the Montessori approach that later evolves into a Cambridge Curriculum, give children a far broader learning experience in comparison to the “traditional schooling format”.
On a similar vein, non-profit-organisations such as Cornerstone Institute, who offer Post Graduate Certificates in Education, which, in addition to the fundamental teaching approaches, combine situational learning (education and ethics in social contexts) with work integrated modules, which are important in developing more holistic approaches and methods geared towards the individual needs of students and the nature of being a capable human with a solid value system.
The 4th industrial age may be the catalyst for true human progression, as the current climate gives us the opportunity to rethink the way we actively collaborate, find solutions to problems and educate our children to thrive on change, together.
For more information regarding Post Graduate Certificates in Education, visit www.cornerstone.ac.za.