We went to the opening symposium of the National Education Week (Dutch). The main theme of the event was The Future Of Education, with a big focus on the role of software, or rather the "digital revolution", as they called it.
Professor Sietske Waslander, member of the Education Council of the Netherlands, spoke about how Software can help us provide tailor-made education. She compared this to the mass customization we also see in consumer products like cars and sneakers.
But, she added, before we can customize we first need to standardize.
We weren't sure what to think about this. If we're talking about standardizing learning goals, like reaching level B2 in German, then sure! But wether you reach that goal by watching tons of German movies, with Duolingo, or by skyping with native speakers should be up to you, right?
And we don't know what kind of jobs we will have by then.
But the demands will most definitely be higher.
So why aren't we innovating our education system?
The debate after the lectures revealed that teachers often feel overrun by new policies - especially ones related to IT. They are forced to implement "innovations" like the interactive whiteboard, without getting the time or resources necessary to support the innovation. Innovation should happen bottom-up rather than top-down!
Innovation should happen bottom-up rather than top-down!
Innovation is a long shot when our educators regard it as a burden. But aren't our students actually already innovating? Aren't they already acquiring those 21st century skills themselves?
We believe they are.