TRANS­FORM­ING OUR ED­U­CA­TION SYS­TEM

We owe it to our kids to al­low them to hit the ground run­ning in the midst of this new in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - OPINION - BADEN U’REN As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor of En­trepreneur­ship, Di­rec­tor, Bond Uni­ver­sity GUEST COLUM­NIST

THE fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion is in full swing and our youth are in­creas­ingly ill-pre­pared to take ad­van­tage of it.

In­no­va­tive or­gan­i­sa­tions op­er­ate in a way that was in­con­ceiv­able at scale 20 years ago: re­sults-ori­ented work­places are out­per­form­ing con­trolo­ri­ented man­age­ment sys­tems, de­mand­ing the ad­di­tional skills of trans­dis­ci­plinar­ity, cre­ativ­ity and emo­tional in­tel­li­gence.

Un­for­tu­nately, our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is strug­gling to keep pace with the de­liv­ery of fu­ture work skills, con­strained by the very sys­tems which have caused the down­fall of cor­po­rate giants like Ko­dak and Nokia.

As with all rev­o­lu­tions, em­bed­ded in­sti­tu­tions find it the most dif­fi­cult to adapt.

One way to en­able the change is via an edict from the top, and David Gon­ski’s re­cent re­port on Aus­tralia’s school­ing sys­tem may pro­vide such an im­pe­tus.

The re­port calls for an adap­tive and in­no­va­tive ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem gen­er­at­ing cre­ative, con­nected and en­gaged learn­ers. It calls for in­creased fo­cus on prob­lem solv­ing, so­cial in­ter­ac­tion and crit­i­cal thinking.

The re­port is mu­sic to the ears of those call­ing for ex­pe­ri­en­tial en­trepreneur­ship ed­u­ca­tion to be­come an em­bed­ded com­po­nent of our na­tional cur­ricu­lum. The en­tre­pre­neur­ial dis­ci­pline is well known to be ex­pert at mak­ing de­ci­sions un­der un­cer­tainty, and the gen­eral ca­pa­bil­i­ties es­poused in Gon­ski 2.0 align strongly with the en­tre­pre­neur­ial method.

Many schools are work­ing around the cur­rent lim­i­ta­tions, de­liv­er­ing cocur­ric­u­lar pro­grams and ac­tiv­i­ties to de­velop en­tre­pre­neur­ial ca­pa­bil­ity.

They are of­ten de­liv­ered by pas­sion­ate ed­u­ca­tors go­ing above and be­yond an al­ready very full work­load to de­liver the pro­grams, and the re­sul­tant burnout leaves promis­ing ac­tiv­i­ties with­out the sus­tain­able re­sourc­ing.

Al­ter­na­tively, ex­ter­nal providers are brought in to de­liver the ed­u­ca­tion, re­sult­ing in a re­quire­ment for bud­get al­lo­ca­tion and a lack of knowl­edge trans­fer into the school it­self.

Nei­ther are long-term solutions for a school­ing sys­tem at­tempt­ing to de­liver fu­ture work skills.

Buried within the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Gon­ski re­port is a call to em­power school lead­er­ship to in­vest in new ed­u­ca­tional styles: to give prin­ci­pals and teach­ers ac­cess to pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment and the au­ton­omy to de­ter­mine their re­spec­tive school’s path for­ward.

This will be par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant as the way in which en­tre­pre­neur­ial ca­pa­bil­ity is learned dif­fers from main­stream ped­a­gogy.

We need to in­vest in our teach­ers to ef­fec­tively de­liver the ed­u­ca­tion, bring­ing them into the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion as a crit­i­cal con­trib­u­tor to Aus­tralia’s en­tre­pre­neur­ial work­force.

We can choose to view our fu­ture as one of abun­dance, with an op­ti­mistic at­ti­tude to­wards the ways in which we al­ter our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

Or we can be close­minded and ig­no­rant of the in­evitable changes sweep­ing through global mar­kets and al­ter­ing the ba­sis of com­merce.

We owe it to our chil­dren to be on the front foot, pre­par­ing them with the skills and ca­pa­bil­i­ties needed to thrive in an uncertain world. The choice is ours.

Baden is in­form­ing the dis­cus­sion on the Ed­u­ca­tion Pil­lar as part of Gold Coast Way Ahead on May 15. Tick­ets gold­coast­waya­head.com.au. He is also a key note speaker at the Myr­iad Fes­ti­val in Brisbane, May 16-18.

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