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The Future of Learning: Exploring an education fit for the 21st century

Sir Ken Robinson & Dr. Peter Senge share their thoughts at the Disruptive Innovation Festival

Photo of Jim Stephens
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Life in the 21st century is more interconnected than ever before. It is also marked by more access to more information than ever before. As huge challenges like climate change and social inequality loom on the horizon, it is said that our time is characterised by VUCA – vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. The acronym might have seeped into public consciousness, as the unpredictability of the future is increasingly perceived as a threat.

Are children and teenagers in this day and age well prepared for this future?

Sir Ken Robinson famously claims that ‘schools kill creativity’ and the current, reductionist approach to learning turns students into adults that are less rather than more comfortable with uncertainty. Peter Senge has spent much of his later career thinking about the tri-part relationship of self to self, self and others, and self and the planet. He found that the ability to handle these three relationships in their complexity is systematically underdeveloped in young people. There might be a need for learning to become more integrated so that knowledge becomes rational and intuitive, general and personal, conceptual and embodied.

What, then, is the vision for education? Join Ken and Peter in discussing and exploring a vision for education in the 21st century, where five key guiding ideas are outlined for the emerging education system: 

•  A new era of personalisation - moving away from standardisation 
•  Strength in peer to peer networks - technical and emotional needs enriched through exchange in groups not as groups
•  Promote collaboration not competition - the system rewards collaboration, celebrating the social aspects of learning 
•  Be the change you want to see - rooted in your local circumstances shape structures that enable the desired behaviour 
•  Too urgent to rush - the only way we will cope with the future is recognising that we are part of shaping it, one step at a time 

Specifically, please check all that apply:

  • A group brainstorm


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mohammad Saad

Good value for my money BUT service in the airport was friendly,

Photo of Mohammad Saad

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Photo of Anony mous

There may be a need for learning out how to wind up noticeably more incorporated so information ends up plainly discerning and instinctive, general and individual, theoretical and encapsulated.

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Jim Stephens 

Hi Jim,
Hope you enjoyed DIF!
What are some of your favorite DIF education related sessions and topics? We can share them in our OpenIDEO community!


Photo of Ajay Batra

Thanks for sharing this, Jim.

I agree with the guiding ideas above, and would like to add a couple more:
1. Embrace technology. The next generation of learners, are not just digital natives, but are digital thinkers. They see the world through the tech lens. Hence, our educational systems must embrace this DNA to make (lifelong) learning an integrated tech experience for the students.

2. Increasingly, learning (and not just education) is becoming experiential. Knowledge is still relevant - but only to the extent that it helps develop smart skills. So our educational systems must incorporate "doing" in a big way as part of "learning".

Photo of Kate Rushton

Thank your another great post, Jim! We really appreciate your insights.

I really like the video. I like the example of drama in schools and how that teaches awareness and putting yourself in other people’s shoes and the flipped classroom / group learning model mentioned.

I like the observation that many things have become a routine rather than a law e.g. the 40 minute lesson time.

What in higher education is a routine and what is the law?

I would love to know the answer to the question.

Also, thinking of your own experiences, what learning experiences have buffered you against uncertainty or helped you deal/cope with it? Or, is that question too vague?