Oct 11, 2019
The average years of schooling in the developing world has more than tripled from 1950 to 2010, but despite “finishing schooling”, children have not acquired key 21-st century skills or the right attitude required to thrive in this world.
Today’s work-spaces require employees to have skills such as teamwork, creativity, leadership and empathy while the current education system has chosen to remain focused on concepts such as advanced calculus instead. Skills that are required for a few are taught to all while fundamental skills and attitudes that are needed by all are neglected.
Furthermore, due to the rigid nature of the current system, learners have been denied pathways to pursue their dreams and instead are forced to procure a “generic degree” that is outdated on even graduation day.
Today, we are in the midst of vast technological and sociological changes that are making the future of work ambiguous. To thrive in this climate of ambiguity and flux, we must dis-enthrall ourselves from boundaries drawn by social thinkers of the medieval past.
Before we look at why we need a new system of lifelong learning, let us understand why the current education system is largely outdated. Our education system is about 200 years old and took shape during the age of industrial revolution.
There was no place for individual interests or skills in this factory model of education. This model encourages competition and celebrates academic success alone.
Given that more and more industries were cropping up at that time, employers needed workers who would merely be subservient and carry out the tasks given to them. Thus, the way of teaching was modeled around this, giving rise to a rigid system where children were admitted in large numbers and divided by age, having to follow a curriculum regulated by the State.
This leaves the learners disengaged and without agency, leaving us with a great deal of wasted potential and unchannelized talent.
Challenging the status quo, comparable to a sense of dis-enthrallment, is an instrumental catalyst for a revolution of any kind. It encourages us to perceive the state of any field, including that of education, for what it has come to.
Just because the incumbent system of education has been in practice for longer, or has been established as an acceptable standard for learning, it does not mean that it is the best and the only way to help young learners thrive.
Post-secondary education in particular, is a space where learning and schooling are most disconnected and clamours for the most change.
Experts visualize its evolution in three waves:
In this wave, there is a great focus on learning leading to gainful employment and everyone has access to rewarding careers over the course of their lifetimes.
Demand-driven learning is meant to adapt to the signals it receives from society and to align desired skills with available training. In other words, this wave will mandate that learning and work intersect, thus ensuring that all learning leads to young people thriving in their areas of work.
We are now in an age where job definitions such as “chief empathizer” and “sixth sense analysts” are not too far from being in-demand. Thus, a new lifelong learning ecosystem becomes essential for enabling everyone to nurture their agency thereby equipping them to make informed decisions about the future.
Interacting with students at Headstart Learning Centre made us realize that students had diverse interests ranging from psychology, music and art to astronomy, science, and sports.
Students needed flexibility to pursue their interests, which most regular schools do not provide. That is the problem Beyond 8 is looking at resolving. Beyond 8 looks at lifelong learning that is modular, decentralized as well as flexible.
Beyond 8 is an ecosystem for continuous learning for all learners above the age of 14 years or those who have completed eighth grade in conventional schools.
In Beyond 8, students learn directly from industry experts and teachers play the role of expert facilitators who create a conducive learning environment and hone key attitudes. 2-hour, 2-day, 2-week and 2-month modules across diverse disciplines are also offered on demand to participants.
These courses are developed in partnership with subject matter experts and practitioners. In addition, the learning journey in Beyond 8 embodies the spirit of the quote - “Journey maketh the man” and is showcased through learner-portfolios rather than the certification-based systems of today.
The Beyond 8 way of facilitation focuses on inquiry-based, trans disciplinary learning such that there is a clear connection between what is taught and how it is applied in the real-world. The core of Beyond 8 lies in its fundamental components namely attitude development, learning how to learn, skill development, content mastery, industry exposure and social and public mindedness. These components are scaffolded by learning modules curated by “practitioners” and “experts” whose content will closely follow the advancements in the industry. This provides for the building of an ecosystem for lifelong learning.
For moving from a highly static educational system which only certifies that one is a novice, to an ecosystem model of lifelong learning, individuals, educators and the industry should play a more active role in redesigning and re-imagining the way students get educated. Such an approach will enable everyone to flourish in their areas of work thus creating and growing a high knowledge and high-skilled economy.
At Beyond 8, we are creating an ecosystem for lifelong learning so that everyone can dare to dream and create their own paths to follow their passions.