The world that will is being handed over to our future generations is a lot worse than the world that was handed over to us by our forefathers. The list of challenges our planet faces is endless – environmental, social, political, economic, emotional, health and many more. The true purpose of education is to prepare children for a life ahead and if we as educators took that responsibility seriously our job is to ideally equip children with skills that will help them solve future problems.
Curriculum in schools is based on an assumption that kids do not have much in their heads and we need to fill it up with content and information that we deem important. Living in an information era we all know that having information is no longer the differentiator in the world as everyone has an access to information. How we make use of this information and how we use the available information to solve problems is what is appreciated by the world today.
Most of our education is spent on teaching children solutions to the problems of yesterday. In fact, almost all subjects seem to dwell on the idea that education is about knowing how problems were solved in the past. This seems like a good premise but the manner in which the world has changed and the manner in which things will change in future one fact will remain – What brought us here will not take us there!
Almost every invention or innovation that has happened in the world started with a problem and a deep desire to solve it. The solution seekers lived with the problem for a long time sometimes decades and worked on it consistently, only then did they see a glimmer of hope and finally a solution. If this principle were to be applied for our present problems, the solutions for some of them are years away and in the minds of kids going to schools today.
It’s time for schools to bring real-world issues into the classrooms, the intention is not necessarily to solve the problem but just to bring it in the conscious minds of the students. Discuss the issues, encourage research around the topic, have debates on possibilities, enable prototypes of possible solutions. Let students think; that is far more important than finding solutions or arriving at outcomes. We as educators should have the patience to understand that the more the children think and delve and struggle with an issue the more their minds will process and come up with innovative solutions.
For over a century now, educators and the educational system has rewarded children for finding a solution and coming up with answers. It’s time we changed that and encourage children to just think and live with the question. World problems don’t have one solution, if our children stopped at the first solution we will not solve the problems of the future. Complex world problems will be solved by a complex network of thinking individuals who will constantly think of a better solution and not focus on the fastest and shortest solution.
Educators today need to be bold to bring real-world challenges into the classroom and more importantly have the patience to appreciate that young thinking minds don’t always come up with answers in one academic period.