Preparing students for 21st-century industries

As automation sweeps industries at a rate none of us could have ever imagined, we move toward an age in which creativity, the ability to think critically, and solve complex problems are our most valuable currencies. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school today will be working in job roles that do not yet exist. The question is, how can we teach students the skills they need to thrive in the 21st Century? Is it possible to prepare the next generation for a world that no one really knows with any certainty?

The demand for digital strategists, data analysts, AI specialists, app developers and cyber security managers shows no sign of slowing down. Yet, how is our education system  preparing young people for this type of job?

Imagine the skills employees will rely on in the day-to-day execution of their jobs in ten years’ time. First are skills which are already crucial for the current workforce, but not skills we really learn through traditional education such as communication, creativity and adaptability. Secondly are the other non-content, knowledge-based attributes, such as analytic reasoning, teamwork and collaboration. As traditional industries change and new ones appear at an unprecedented rate, the ability to be open to change and new challenges will be crucial.

In the opinion of Thuc Vu (co-founder of Ohminilabs): “Today we have digital natives, in the future we will have digital conductors.”

Today we have digital natives, in the future we will have digital conductors.
– Thuc Vu, Ohminilabs

Learning how to work in collaboration with machines is how we will enhance our ability to learn and expand our capabilities beyond imagination. In other words, there’s no better time to learn how machines work than now.

How can this gap between education and skill requirements be closed without putting too much strain on an already strained system? The solution Magpie Education advocates is the ‘makers philosophy’. A philosophy which champions relearning how to create and make, all whilst fostering creativity and curiosity. With so much focus on the ability to regurgitate facts, many of us, adults and children alike, have forgotten how to make things. The sheer joy and sense of achievement which comes from conceptualising an idea is unparalleled to much else.

The simple application of knowledge is something most of us are required to do on a daily basis. With this in mind, the Magpie Education team have created a library of lesson plans which focus on the real world application of knowledge. All the Magpie lesson plans are 3 dimensional, providing CPD to give the teacher confidence with the activities they are facilitating. Supporting the teachers and engaging students with real life relevance leads to better retention and thereby better educational outcomes. Students explore robotics and mixed reality while learning to code within the framework as specified by the National Curriculum. Examples of outcomes from the plans within the Magpie app include: learning to build simple programs to fly mini-drones, creating a vehicle which operates autonomously and gaining an understanding of the 3D printing process.

We take the stance that the education received by students should be relevant to the society they are living in and this can be achieved with project based learning and a focus on the application of knowledge rather than the recital of it on a test paper.

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