Education must evolve as the world changes, and parents today are not surprised (dismayed, perhaps, but not surprised) that things are very different from their day. Education around the world reflects both technological advances and more enlightened attitudes as the dog-eat-dog world becomes a little more caring. Here are trends that are going to be affecting our young people this year.
Formerly known as soft skills, they have presumably acquired this new name to emphasize that the skills in question are every bit as important as what might be regarded as traditional subjects. Leadership has emerged as a discipline of its own and although it has been addressed in the past as part of another package, usually business studies, it now stands on its own, just as leaders always have.
Leadership is required wherever there are groups of people, from the military to local schools and the local coffee shop, and it is important to get our young people used to the idea that it is something they are or are not suited to. The emergence of a leader often happens naturally, with the dominant figure in the group rising to prominence through little more than charisma, and international politics has shown us, particularly in recent years, that charisma is not necessarily backed up by wisdom. A young person who has never thought about this may come to realize that their knowledge, their aptitude in a certain field can make them an excellent candidate for a leader’s role.
Thus, the traditional back-room brains behind an operation can instead take their merited position at the forefront, while the more vocal personality can add support in other ways. Also included in power skills are critical thinking, something else a youngster may not realize they are good at, and time management, which is not so much a skill as an attitude requiring an element of ruthlessness. The power skills are all part of what makes up an efficient and effective body of people who in turn make up a business.
The drastic rise in inflation has made it more expensive for colleges to provide an education. This had led to a huge increase in fees and students all over the world are feeling the pinch. Utilizing student loans are still the most common funding option and many students are realizing how impossible it would be to pay for the fees without additional funding. 2023 is a challenging year for education when it comes to finances, but many predict that things will become less difficult as inflation decreases.
The COVID pandemic may have had precious few redeeming features, but now that it has relented enough for us to see it in perspective, what is clear is that it forced us to confront the concept of physical presence and reassess whether it is always necessary. With hybrid learning, where some students are in the classroom while others join in via video link, the advantages are obvious. It enables those who cannot physically attend for whatever reason, geographical, health-related or something else entirely, to be a part of the group and the education process. One of the principal concerns here is about engagement: getting a remote student to really feel and behave like a part of the group can be tricky, but as time goes by and they enter a workplace that may involve video participation and self-discipline, having experienced the phenomenon in school can be hugely beneficial.
One of the more controversial trends is likely to be the use of e-games for learning. While a whole generation has grown up playing games via computer, often in competition with other players possibly thousands of miles away, a generation of parents has struggled to come to terms with it, and the child’s reluctance to engage with the real world, even to the extent of coming out of their room, let alone going outside to kick a soccer ball around or go through endless repetitions with basketball and a hoop. To find these same video games being used in the classroom as a supposedly genuine means of learning can take some accepting, but it is happening and only time will tell if it was a breakthrough or a false dawn.
This is another area where parents may need some persuading, because again it all happens in the child’s brain, rather than the real world, although some would dispute that description because AR blends the two, superimposing a computer-generated image on a user’s view of reality. It’s a challenge to the older members of society and although they may never completely accept its value until they see irrefutable proof of its effectiveness, it’s another area where they will have to hope that the educators have got it right.
In recent times we have seen the demand for mental health services increase and also an increasing number of public figures talking about their mental health. We’ve had sports players openly stating that’s why they are going to be missing a tournament, rather than concocting a story about a fictitious injury. Actors, politicians, and people in all walks of life have been encouraged to talk about mental issues as the general health matters they really are, but which traditionally we have been embarrassed about.
The age of gritting your teeth and getting on with it may not have passed entirely, but feeling overstressed or depressed enough not to function properly is gradually being downgraded to the level of having a twisted ankle or a persistent migraine. On the physical side, education continues to drum into us that people with physical challenges, from missing limbs and paralysis to speech problems, are no less deserving of opportunities than those who would be traditionally classed as having no disabilities. From wheelchair tennis to ball games for the blind, sport is leading the way here and with the benefit of education, the level of acceptance will continue to grow until a truly inclusive society rises steadily to its feet.