What should we learn for NEET

Future Skills
Opinions

Our education system is under massive pressure to change. Internet-capable all-purpose devices in pocket size - according to the last JIM study, 97 percent of 12 to 19 year olds now have their own smartphone - are revolutionizing the way we acquire and learn knowledge. YouTube tutorials challenge traditional teaching; Pure fact-based learning seems less and less up-to-date when all of the world's knowledge is only a click away. The question of what we learn - which knowledge, skills and characteristics, which future skills we actually need as responsible citizens in an increasingly networked, digital world - must also be answered from scratch.

It is therefore clear that something has to change. But how? The debate about education in the digital age in Germany currently revolves around new competence grids and the use of digital media in the classroom, the basic and advanced training of teachers and, of course, the digital infrastructure and technical equipment of schools. None of this is wrong. There is an urgent need for action in all of the areas mentioned.

Yet the efforts will come to nothing as long as they do not take into account the actual challenge posed by digital transformation. In a nutshell, it can be described as follows: Our education system has a speed problem. Reality is faster than our planning processes. Until the commissions have approved new content for curricula and examination regulations, the next topics are on the agenda. By the time teacher training is realigned, the requirements will have changed again, and the technical equipment we buy today may be out of date tomorrow. Therefore, the question that we have to ask ourselves before everyone else is: How do we organize learning in our society in such a way that it can keep up with the rapid pace of change?

My answer is: By turning our educational institutions themselves into flexible, learning organizations that not only reproduce knowledge, but also generate it themselves. How do we get there? We will only find out if we set out with a lot of curiosity, experimentation and courage. There is no master plan for this transformation. But there are a few signposts that we can use to orient ourselves on our journey into the future. Here are three suggestions:

  • More responsibility on site: Instead of more material, more specifications, more control, we need the exact opposite, namely the greatest possible scope for the people involved on site. Teachers and learners must have the freedom to take up current topics, pursue their interests, develop their own questions and experiment with new learning settings. There are schools that are already successfully showing how this can be done and how very different talents can develop in an open environment.
  • Opening: Spatially separated and subject to their very own time rhythm, our educational institutions represent parallel worlds into which the living and working world for which they are supposed to prepare is only filtered and processed in knowledge and teaching units. This artificial demarcation no longer works today. It overwhelms the teachers, who have to work on new topics and challenges at ever shorter intervals. And it obscures the fact that learning does not only take place in school, but always and everywhere. Aren't the so-called 21st Century Skills - creativity, critical thinking, the ability to communicate and cooperate - just as practiced in football clubs, in theater workshops or while playing computer games?
  • Networking: It is time to think about learning not in terms of institutions but in terms of possibilities. This change of perspective opens up completely new resources. Many so-called third places such as libraries, museums, clubs, neighborhood centers or even the company around the corner can be places of learning. There is potential in this that can develop particularly when the mere coexistence becomes a conscious togetherness; when schools begin to see themselves as central nodes in regional networks for learning and innovation.

Reorganizing learning in the digital age means one thing above all: a collective challenge for regions. With the Digital Skills competition launched in 2018. Learning in regional networks, the Körber Foundation and Stifterverband are looking all over Germany for specific examples of how partners from schools and universities, local authorities, business and civil society can work together to create a living ecosystem for learning and innovation. We can all learn from these role models. Because the skills of tomorrow - the future skills - do not thrive in the structures of yesterday.