DXGIG, The Education Towards Future Of Work
Should educators be more interactive and engaging in their mode of teaching?
Past weeks I have been researching the best education pathway and the available private or international school for my kid. I am one of the so-called "kiasu" parents similar to many other parents, very eager and anxious in looking for the best school and education for our children.
We then decided to board my girl to National Chinese School (SJKC) after having spoken to many friends and parents. Then, acquiring an additional language will be one of the key factors in our decision-making. We were fortunate as we managed to onboard her into one of the prominent schools.
We were impressed, having us being the typical "banana" parents who are unable to speak and write in Chinese; my girl managed to improve her communication proficiencies at speed. Thereafter, we started to be relaxed as we thought having her improved on her Mandarin proficiencies; she should be coping well with her studies.
As she progressed to primary 2, we still took for granted that she was still in primary school and we should not place too much pressure on her. After all, we had her attending additional tuition after school. I was so wrong; we later found out that while she can proficient well in her communication in both English and Chinese, she struggles to recognize Chinese characters well.
I started to realize this when she sat for her online exam. It was then that I felt helpless as I could not help her with her exam as I sat beside her. She struggled as she cannot comprehend the questions as every subject is in Mandarin except Bahasa Malaysia and English. By the way, for one who does not know or is naive like me, it didn't occur to me that all languages (Chinese, Bahasa Malaysia, and English) and non-language subjects are taught in Mandarin in Chinese vernacular schools.
In dilemma, I, therefore, started to research the so-called idle school for her. However, having me in business transformation and gig economy consulting, places me further concerned as to how the national syllabus and the method of teaching can map to the future of work? The futures of work need workers to have cognitive skills, quick problem-solving and, be collaborative.
The Interactive Teaching
Almost all of us were affected by the unprecedented covid-19 pandemic crisis. Everyone, businesses including schools were unprepared as they face the consequences of unplanned changes as to how they needed to transform quickly to the new way of working and studying. I suppose many parents will agree with me - it was a challenge to have their kids focus in their online classes. Teachers, educators, and those who had never experience in using technologies and digital tools previously needed to convert to online teaching at that instant.
As everyone battle against the pandemic, the teachers and parents were led to the consequences on the students' learning. It was a total disruption to the traditional teaching methods especially the national schools which I understand have limitations. Well, perhaps with the pandemic, it's a blessing in disguise as the society is heading toward the future.
We must know that today's ongoing school children may be the Gen Z or Alpha generation; we ought to remember that these children are digital natives. They were born and ingrained with digital technologies and tools from a very young age. Therefore teaching methods have to be as interactive as much as possible. These kids constantly played interactive games like Roblox or Minecraft and others. When they play online games, they are quick with their fingers; they play and chat concurrently. They no longer use full words to chat, they use acronyms. They are quick thinkers, and I do not doubt that they are even smarter than what you may think of them. Not forgetting, they have access to YouTube and Google for instant information, they use google translate instead of a dictionary. Information is everywhere within their reach and digital technologies are probably their hands and legs now.
As such, I would probably ask myself how prepared is the school with interactive teaching. Gone are the days with the traditional method of memorization and reciting techniques. Educators need to be engaging and interactive to attract their attention.
The Cultural subject
In my course of work, I focus a lot on the future of work and I usually use this tagline for my opening. It's no longer about legacy business; it's about technology, mindset, and cultural change. So how relevant is today's education leading the future generation towards cultural change?
Most schools already have the fundamentals to prepare the kids for the future of work with a curriculum based on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects. These kids already have their exposure and fundamentals as early as pre-school level.
I thought this was good enough to build their foundation until I heard many other parents struggle with kids in the upper primary in Chinese vernacular schools today. Their reluctance of going to school is very common but until I heard kids having anxiety, hysterical, and even one needed to be referred to a psychologist.
As such, I started asking these parents as to why they were challenged with these kids since they have other older kids and they came from Chinese vernacular schools themselves. Now I started to understand as the upper primary syllabus focuses in-depth on written composition including a bit of Chinese ancient history and literature. I am not sure why Chinese ancient history is included in their syllabus, maybe it could be the school wanted to stress the importance and relevance of ancient history to today's culture. Or perhaps, the school wanted to create strong universal values so that these kids can make their future ethical decision which is one of the emphases when I read the national education blueprint.
Today's children are progressing and proficient in English as they played interactive games online frequently. Most of these well-known online games are in English hence they communicate more in English with their friends, even as they have Chinese as their mother tongue. I suppose that could be one of the reasons as these kids struggle to compose Chinese and comprehend literature and ancient history. Perhaps, interactive and engaging teaching methods will improve the learning abilities.
I, therefore, started to evaluate what are my priorities and I came up with three core components, which are added language skills, culture, and digital skills. I did a quick poll and the results I received more are inclined to be proficient in languages. Although the responses have mixed feelings about Digital, and Cultural skills, on the other hand, they acknowledged that these are equally important and these three elements are already embedded in most schools today. So, what are we still looking for?
While my girl managed to improve her proficiencies, I still need to find a solution to improve her Chinese character recognition. I am thankful as I have friends who helped her through this process and we managed to place her in different centres to improve her literacy. During the process, I further understand the Chinese vernacular school teaching method. They use memorization and repetition learning. I am sure it is acceptable as this method has been used for umpteen decades.
However, according to World Economic Forum, it is about 21st-century skills that every kid needed to be collaborative, proficient in communication, and problem-solving skills which should be developed through social and emotional learning (SEL). With SEL combination with traditional skills will help these kids to evolve towards both the digital economy and the future of work.
So, what is next? As such, I believe, embedding communication, quick thinking, and a culture of collaboration will help with problem-solving skills to groom them for the future of work. Digital and Gig Economy is the future of work, not only because it is the way forward towards the future of work but it also the way how generations approached the future. The Millennials, the Gen Z, and the forthcoming Generation Alpha will lead the future; hence, we need to approach the best fundamentals for them.
In summary, I have no qualms and without a doubt that each school and education system is geared towards the future. Children as young as 6 years old started to grow on their cognitive and social development skills. They can think in more noticeable ways. Therefore, as parents, we ought to listen and observe closely as to how our children are coping with the learnings.
At the end of the day, I felt the teaching methods have to change drastically to accommodate these newer generations. Educators need to be more engaging and interactive in their mode of teaching as today's children are no longer the traditional kids we used to be. Finally, parents play a crucial role to ensure they support the schools, teachers with their kids' progress.
Disclaimer, this is my personal view and does not represent anyone in the above context. LEAD Digital, THINK Digital, GOVERN Digital.