Never before have we been as global as we are today. You can be sitting at a laptop in Kenya or downtown Manhattan and you have the same amount of information at your feet. To add to this you can now communicate anywhere, anytime and to anyone in the world. Even the most famous will interact with you personally through social media, emails or even by ‘liking’ your work, your ideas, your dreams. To take a step further we need to understand that our sense of ‘where we fit’ is shifting dramatically, and this feeling of belonging and what we are and where we belong is also making a change. With this change comes a whole new range of learning.
When I grew up it was a suburb, my close family and friends and my dreams were about what was available and what I was exposed to inside that. Now we can also see the whole world much better as our opportunity. To travel when I was young was the dream but it was expensive and you needed time. Now it’s in an online search and a click. Of course nothing will take away the real sense of standing on that mountain breathing that Himalayan air, or being on the beach exploring that tropical landscape, but we will be ‘virtually’ there and at least our ‘understanding’ of it will have more substance.
So where does this lead us in our school learning? Is it necessary now to learn all the Presidents names? The capital cities of the world? All the facts and figures that consumed us in the past? Not really, these are all now available online, and they are up to date.
The most important social responsibility of education today is more about connection, collaboration and creativity. We now know that anything is possible – literally, and know we could be the ones or one who creates something important and new for someone else. Technology has now miraculously lowered the poverty rate and is now pushing people back to their homes instead of the big cities to spread the word of abundance. The sense of sharing is not just online, but within the community you live to let them know the world out there is for them, not for the other lucky ones.
Education needs to be more empowering, and less directional. People will find themselves in other places, more likely better places than they were expecting. Being requested to ask to ‘fit in’ is no longer the wish of a society, it is to ensure people become tolerant but support their journey further afield.
Curriculums need to move with this, teaching styles need to move with this, and school environments need to move with this. The future is sitting in front of us in the classroom, and these will be the people that make our world a better place. Simply because they will refuse to ‘fit in’, they will demand a wide and varied future, because this is what they see every day through technology.