Time for a re-think of our education system
It’s the elephant in the room. Our education system is failing us and now, more than ever, it needs a makeover. With the advancements in technology, and the constantly changing employment needs of the world, it is time for a re-think of what basic requirements are needed within our education system. Automation is here now and here to stay and whether you like it or not, most of the roles you see today will not be around when your children grow up. There are reports that nearly 50% of jobs in the U.S and concurrently in Australia, will be replaced by automated systems in the next twenty years. Read this for a more specific everyday example. Now firstly before you pull apart what I am about to say (because everyone seems to have an opinion on this, although our politicians are too scared to touch it), I am no expert. I don’t even work in the education system. I just have an opinion.
I went through the public education system and went on to study a ‘new’ course at university in Health Services Management, and came out with no pathway and very limited opportunities. I went back and studied a post-graduate certificate in Human Resource Management, but after completing this (almost fifteen years ago), I came out and HR had been outsourced to recruitment, payroll, training and WHS, with few companies maintaining HR in-house. Once again I am not complaining, I have worked in these specific areas as well as others, and am still comfortably employed, but I know many people who are not. These people have been advised all along that University will provide you future job security and employment. These people have done Degrees, second degrees, Masters, PhD’s and do not have permanent jobs or quite often, any job at all. I’m going to leave university out of this discussion for now, because I want to focus on the fundamental change required within Secondary education. This is where we need to learn the skills to be able to adapt and work in areas that are suited to our skill-set.
Firstly Secondary Education needs to provide ALL kids with some basic ‘real world’ survival skills for when they are out of home and on their own. Here are some examples of units that I feel should be compulsory within all secondary schools:
- Communication – how to communicate in different social settings, different environments, with different forms of communication i.e. face-to-face, via phone, email, video conference. This would also cover how to work within a team and how to deal with difficult people.
- Financial Management (doing budgets, bill forecasting, deposits for loans etc.)
- Basic I.T (covering general Internet searches, how to conduct research, basic Microsoft Word, Excel etc)
- Problem Solving / Critical analysis (reviewing media, peer review and research articles, independent thought)
The standard units such as English and Maths also need major modification, so that people can spell and write a coherent sentence and can read an electricity bill, or work out cheapest product per 100 grams on a supermarket shelf. More real-life examples need to be used, to keep things relevant for the children of today. Grammar is a bugbear of mine, but alas, I would simply like to see all children be able to write a coherent and logical sentence and be able to calculate what two movie tickets and a box of popcorn will cost prior to being told.
In our high schools we also need pathways with local business, so that more traineeships and apprenticeships can be provided for those that want to work in specific industries, like the automotive and building sector. We will always need certain trades, particularly people who can show initiative and be flexible with their knowledge and thinking as their roles change and previous tasks become automated.
For those specialising in their career pathways, there needs to be more specific majors covered i.e.
- The Arts – e.g. specialisations in production, visual/performing arts, script writing, and journalism (report writing etc.)
- Support work (aged care/child care/disability support)
- Languages (which should have practical component working with those from another country or doing volunteer work i.e. links with TESOL)
- I.T – i.e. Coding, software development
- Project Management, specialising in such things as engineering, architecture
Secondary education should also have pathway units for those interested in occupations such as nursing, engineering, law, accounting, medicine. Further to this, and for ALL units, the education system should have workshops with professionals in the industry so that children can confirm whether the specific unit is in the area they really want to work in. There should also be potential (volunteer work) from secondary school onward, where further tertiary education is required and children can be mentored prior to working in the industry. I know that this sounds like radical change that will cost a lot of money, but if we’re not going to start investing in the future of our children, then we ourselves are to blame for the future that we become!
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