Skills for a changing world: Advancing quality learning for vibrant societies
Skills for a Changing World is a project of the Center for Universal Education at Brookings and the LEGO Foundation that seeks to ensure all children have high quality learning opportunities that build the breadth of skills needed to create a productive, healthy society in the face of changing social, technological, and economic demands.
As industries change and new jobs are created, young people will have to continue to learn new skills, many of which will require interpersonal skills like collaboration and communication as well as higher-order thinking and dependability.
Learning and cultivating breadth of skills requires us to rethink how children learn in and out of school and how we educate young people. For more than a century, the dominant form of education has been mass schooling, employing a teacher-centered, “knowledge transmission” model. This is what will likely sound familiar to most as a definition of school. Teachers are responsible for imparting knowledge to students, generally placing them at the front of a classroom, with a chalkboard and rows of students facing them. This makes the role of the teacher a content expert and lecturer, the social and collaborative nature of learning is often ignored and learning is supposed to be an individual, “in-the-head” endeavour.
However, being educated is no longer just about how much you know. It is also about having the skills and motivation for lifelong learning so that you can acquire new knowledge whenever you need to. And lifelong learning does not begin when you leave school. The ability to stay curious, engaged and creative is the cumulative consequence of years of education built upon a foundation laid down in early childhood. In other words, the problem – and the answer – starts early.
The LEGO Foundation approach to quality learning originates from small children’s inherent curiosity and playful experiences, paramount in the early years and crucial for learning, and anyone dealing with the purpose of learning and the quality of learning experiences should start by acknowledging that the motivation to learn and the drive to play is built into our biology.
The differences in how quality learning is perceived and implemented vary greatly across cultures and geographies of course. Nevertheless, there are three critical conditions for how to support it everywhere: Qualified teachers (people), a safe and stimulating physical environment (places) and a culture that supports children’s creativity and drive to learning (culture).
The Skills for a Changing World series page is now live! You can access it here>>. A series of blogs, papers, and reports are available on the page already, and more content will be added as the project moves forward.