(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/2JI8bff)
Just as the millennial now checks anything and everything online and then quickly swipes to the left, right or up or down, so too will the learner and employee. This is the backbone of the fluidity principle.
Going back a century, we can see that learning was in fact all about building a workforce that would do as they were told. The manufacturing industry was starting to take off and people no longer wanted animals to do the work, they just weren’t intelligent enough, so they decided that humans should take over because humans could do a variety of tasks that an animal couldn’t. Makes sense. The education system was also set up to make sure we all did the same tasks and did them the ‘right’ way. Anyone who couldn’t do things the ‘right’ way were expelled from the system and were left to a world of unskilled or criminal behavior in order to get by.
There was a problem here however. Though humans were certainly much better than animals at doing jobs, they still made a lot of mistakes (human error). Industrialists accepted this shortcoming because they measured the difference between using an animal compared to using a human and the benefits were certainly considerably higher. But as the car was born, the truck emerged, then aircraft and some machines were introduced, the industrialists could see that these new pieces of equipment were far more efficient than a human and could work 24 hours a day, were cheaper and only needed maintenance. And so the machine age emerged, and the once acceptable human error now became a big issue.
Soon of course all manufacturing companies would have machines that do anything from some to almost all the work in the workshops. The humans were left to simply maintain and observe.
Then of course came the highly efficient computer age, that did 90% of the maintenance of machine work, and the human again was left in the dust.
This left a real vacuum for the human….the question was – where did they fit now?
Okay for some professions, e.g early childhood educators, actors, entrepreneurs, etc, but for many, particularly unskilled workers, the question still remained and is still an ongoing problem today, what about them?
The answer to this is the idea of ‘fluidity’.
Already we can see in the millennial generation that young people are not that interested in getting a job that has a long term promise of ‘work with one company until you retire and get a pension and die’. Those days are gone. The key point here is that the millennial worker has not been raised in a world of security forever, they have been raised in a world (through the internet) that anything is possible, everyone can achieve without even leaving their bedroom, and we must be everywhere, every time and not to worry, you will have access to everything all the time. Which is actually true and will become even truer as the world continues to develop.
How does this therefore impact how we teach our young people today? Well it affects learning fundamentally, and in turn must affect the way in which educational systems are set up, otherwise there will be a major revolt. Millennials are now growing up and a new generation is coming. These people will be the ones who will say – no way!!! And be confident enough to shun the system and feel they will be able to make it alone. Such courage!
The key point here is that these new minds entering our system are far more ‘fluid’ than our minds ever were. This means that within the educational systems they enter, there needs to be a sense of fluidity to harness this and guide them still in the right direction.
The output of this new system of fluidity is that the workforce will also in turn expect and welcome those fluid workers. These will be people who will stay with you for a short time, give you their all, but move onto something else quite quickly. The employer will need to know this and accept this, and also understand that this can in fact be a good thing for a company.
It used to be that staff retention was the biggest indicator of a strong company. Now of course if someone stays any longer than 5-7 years somewhere, they could be doing damage to themselves if not to the company by staying there.
At the same time, companies will need to understand that they can inject time and energy into these people for their short-term output, and not feel that they have wasted their time. It will be okay, because they will soon be getting someone else who has had the same input from their previous company, and so will be off to a head-start with you.
Teaching students that fluidity is okay comes first from the teacher knowing that it has it’s benefits too. Fluidity can come into the curriculum in many forms.
Here are some examples of ‘fluid learning programmes’
- Offering a range of tasks that students can choose from to achieve the same output
- Allowing unfinished work to be picked up by someone else – highlighting that this is a new skill within itself
- Allowing movement between teams on group work, so long as the teams agree to this person entering or leaving their team.
- Presenting a constant variety of information available in all shapes and forms that suit the ‘whimsical’ nature of how we think. Anyone should be able to access information at anytime in any way they feel is right for them so long as it is relevant to the task at hand.
- Allowing different work times for different people based on what they are offering to the team
…and so they go on.
For most teachers today, this is still very scary and challenging if you have a very clear set of criteria to meet so that students all pass their exam. But the concept is there and will need to be implemented somehow or other, because the world is changing.
The most positive output of the ‘fluid’ approach to learning is the fact that the concept of human error though still present, will eventually be the cornerstone of what gets picked up the second time around. Often people will stay with something until they find their error just too much to bare and so will move onto something else that will harness what they did learn from their previous experience. What will happen then is that the new person who comes will confront the human error with fresh eyes and bring to it exactly what they learned from their own previous experience, and so the cycle will continue.
Fluidity is exactly as it sounds, ‘able to move easily’, which allows all those who take part in it to work always to their best output or move onto the next thing. This sounds highly risky, but in fact it relies on the fundamental human principle that people usually want to do their best, or if not they will seek something else, where they do think they can do their best.
As you can see the results of this can be highly profitable for any business, should they know how to harness it.
In terms of machines taking over this ‘human error’ component, yes there will always be a machine that just may do it better, but the human collaboration aspect will never die. Humans fundamentally like to challenge themselves by being creative, courageous and ultimately move themselves forward, if they can feel a sense of achievement and purpose.
Fluidity is the future of learning and employment. Time to get to understand what’s in it for you.