Andreas Schleicher will share reflections on teaching and learning in a post-pandemic world, and the role of mission-led schools offering holistic education in an every-changing world.
Nick Alchin: Good afternoon, everyone. Nice to see you. After Howard's inspirational opening. And by the way, did you all notice that we're now on first name terms with global celebrities? After Howie's opening this morning, we've had sessions on teaching and learning, learner agency, peace, inclusion, decolonisation, education under occupation, what DIJ can mean for primary school students, infant school students, the Internet of Things, Ethical A.I..
Wow. And that is just the morning. How lovely to be looking away from compliance and away from safety measures and to be able to think about the things that are valuable to us again. I also hope that UWCSEA colleagues here have managed to either grab a snack at Santai if you are in East or Dover the Heritage Cafe and a warm welcome to our thousands of virtual visitors, guests who are joining us.
It's lovely to see you all. I hope this traditionally graveyard slot is going to be anything but because the ideas ahead of us are going to be fascinating. But I hope we've all returned refueled and re-energised and it's going to be interesting for so many reasons. But one of the reasons, of course, is that the man we're going to introduce now needs no introduction for his provocative thinking for his vision of the future and for his fascinating sense of where society's heading.
Dr. Andreas Schleicher, Andy, is Director of Education for Education and Skills and Special Adviser on Education Policy to the Secretary General at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. So he comes to us with a pretty good perspective on some of the big trends that it might be hard to see when we're in the trenches, but which are visible to him globally.
He's worked for over 20 years with ministers and education leaders around the world to improve the quality and the equity of education guiding and building major OECD programmes, including the Programme for International Student Assessment PISA, the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies which include speaking acronyms which are quite complicated, and the Teaching and Learning International Survey and the Indication of Education Systems, Indicators of Education Systems.
And what's interesting about these tools, I think, and many of us are familiar with one or more of them, is that they've created a global platform for policymakers, researchers and educations, dare I say, across nations, peoples, nations and cultures to innovate and transform educational policies. Being able to see what's happening in other countries, to take what's happening in other countries and contextualise them for their own countries.
He's actually on the OECD as a whole, have actually changed. I think the whole discourse that is going on in education at the moment, because now it's not just here's what works here, it's here's what works here in relation to what works in other places. And that can only be a good thing.
Writing and speaking widely about the future of education and work, Dr. Schleicher is an important voice globally in this arena. He's been the recipient of many awards. Too many, in fact, for me to mention here. But the most sort of perhaps recent one or one that he mentions proudly on his biography is the Theodore House Prize awarded in the name of the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany for exemplary democratic engagement. And it's interesting that that's not about education.
That's about a broader vision for society and good work perhaps resonating with what we heard from Howie this morning. Dr. Schleicher has recorded a video for us on the critically important question of holistic education in a high tech era. As before we'll hear from him and we'll have a chance for questions and answers and as before. If you have a question, please think about it during the show.
Do come down to the front to the microphones, and we'll also have questions from our online colleagues. And we'll take it as it goes from there. So please give a warm welcome to Dr. Schleicher. Thank you.
Andreas Schleicher: Hello and thank you so much for inviting me to UWC Southeast Asia, to speak to what we can learn and how we learn for the future. At this moment, our eyes are still very much focused on the pandemic that has deeply disrupted our lives, our education. Well, one thing is clear. The future always surprises. Climate change is going to disrupt our lives a lot more than this pandemic.
And artificial intelligence creates so much more uncertainty. We know how to educate second class robots. You know, people are very good at repeating what we told them. But what will make us human in a world in which the kind of things that are easy to teach and test have also become easy to digitise, to automate? These are the questions we will need to answer.
What is the knowledge, the skills, the attitudes and values that help us get ready for an uncertain, volatile, ambiguous world. And of course, the many other trends that shape our future and the future of education start with the easy ones. Economic development. They are new sources of growth. You can see very clearly that intangibles have become the key to economic success.
An example of that power is the growth of a few tech companies compared to the declining revenue of the companies that traditionally dominated the Fortune 500 some decades ago. The great thing is that unlike tangible assets, knowledge can be used infinitely repeatedly in many different places, in many different types. And that's what explains the rapid growth of technology companies these days.
They are so good at producing, disseminating, reusing intangibles, And of course, you know, intangibles are about people, and people are about skills. How do we develop the right skills and how can we leverage them? Extract value from them, you know, better skills and better jobs and better lives of people. That's the challenge of our times. And it's not just about, you know, cognitive skills, equally about social and emotional skills, your creativity, your curiosity, your empathy, your leadership, courage.
Those things matter. Trademark applications are another way to make the push to the intangibles visible. Once again in education, we should ask ourselves, you know, what competencies are needed for participating in this increasingly intangible economy? What knowledge, skills, attitudes and values do we need for generating new ideas, new products, organising and governing, new ways of working and producing?
And what is the role of technology and facilitating that learning? We also see how technology is becoming a big player in the learning itself, making learning more granular, more adaptive, more interactive. Now, while you do mathematics on a computer, the computer can study how you study and then make your learning so much more adaptive to your personal learning styles. Learning analytics.
You know, teachers can use it to see how different students learn differently and then engage with that diversity in new ways. This is the world in which we live. The way we live and work also shapes the future of education. One thing is clear. You know those with the right skills never had the life chances they have today.
While those who struggle in the transition to the knowledge economy never face the risks they have today. Our labour markets become more sensitive to the skills of people, and that means, you know, they are also going to be better in extracting value from the skills of people. So those with the right skill sets, great. For those without, they may risk being left further behind.
One trend that, you know, that may not seem so obvious to you is that we actually work less and less. There's been a real shift from work to leisure over the last decades.
But, again are we equipped for that? We use our leisure sensibly in a fulfilling way, in a way that increases our life satisfaction. Again, we should not just, you know, look at the future work. We should look at the future of lives and how living and working can be the same as living and learning the past.
We used to learn to do the work, and now learning has become the work. Great places of work will always be great places of learning.
And then there are new forms of work. You can look at our economy, digital platform technologies reorganise everything around us. You no longer know what is a large or a small employer. A few people in a great company can change the world. The most important companies these days are no longer created, you know, by a big industry. They're created by a big idea Often they have the product before they have the money.
You know, no longer know who is the customer and who is the business. Peer to peer markets are blurring the boundaries. Now we go on eBay and Amazon and, you know, sell and buy it in the same place. And governments are going on this bandwagon as well.
I look at this on the vertical axis, you see the skills of populations as measured by our advanced code savvy. And on the horizontal axis, you see the risk of automation, the likelihood that a robot is going to take over your job. And you could see the two are actually quite closely related, not nations that are great at skilling their people tend to be also nations where actually labour markets are quite well protected from automation.
Whereas nations that struggle in the transition to the knowledge economy are also the ones which may lose most of their jobs.
So knowledge, skills, attitudes and value, those are the key. But you know, when we surveyed 15 year olds in our PISA study, we can see that there's a large share of them now 30, 40, sometimes 50%, and particularly students from disadvantaged backgrounds who aspire to jobs that are most at risk to be automated. We often educate our young people not for their future, but for our past And then, you know, what do we do with online labour for example?
You can see a clear rise. People like to work more flexibly, take greater ownership over when they work, how they work. Online labour is a good example of this. But if that's the reality, how well are we equipped to help those actually progressing their careers when there is no fixed employer sponsoring their training? What does this shift mean for our education system?
For formal, for non-formal education, for educational professionals? What is the potential of new training opportunities emerging from the gig economy? There's fantastic resources in things like GitHub, amazing resources? How do we use them? We need to answer those questions. And then, you know, knowledge always means power. Look at the massive rise of wikis in the past. You know what we heard, what we saw was framed from very few people, from a handful of television anchors who had a huge influence over lots of people. A handful of newspaper editors wrote what we would be reading about the world. And they usually, you know, did their work well. They carefully curated what they would be writing, often what was carefully reviewed. When you didn't know the answer to a question, you could look it up in an encyclopaedia and often or usually you could trust the answer.
You find that to be true.
Today, we are all authors. We all contribute knowledge. Everybody can just write what they think. You don't know the answer to a question. You look it up on Google and you know you get 100,000 answers and nobody's going to tell you what is right and what is wrong, what is true, and what is not true. Literacy is no longer about extracting knowledge from pre-fabricated information. Literacy now, it is about constructing knowledge, validating knowledge. Well, you know, that's the demand. But when you look at the reality, you can see here that's the share of 15 year olds, according to Pisa, who are really good at navigating the Internet. We said, I mean, things like distinguishing fact from opinion or, you know, navigating different information sources and combining triangulating knowledge, the kind of skills that you need to be, you know, confident in the digital world.
You can see in Singapore things look great. Or better than other countries. Or Korea or, you know, parts of China. But, you know, in most parts of the world, a significant majority of 15 year olds do not have those skills. And even in Singapore, a third of the 15 year olds you're going to meet out on the street will not be equipped for the digital world in which they live. Being born into the digital world doesn't mean that you are a digital native. You know being able to use your tablet and your mobile phone doesn't mean you can distinguish fact from opinion, navigate complex information sources. The technology has evolved so much faster than our capacity to use it meaningfully responsibly. It's the 21st century that needs to change that. And then finally, you know, there is no Planet B.
Let me conclude with a look at the environment.
As you can see here, since 1970, our ecological footprint has consistently exceeded our Earth's bio capacity. You can see that here marked by the gray dotted line last year we exceeded it by over 70%. You know, globally we live as if we had 1.7 planets available instead of just the one we have. And if you're an American, you lived as if you had five earths available.
That is clearly not sustainable.
Well, you know, when we surveyed school leaders, it looked quite optimistic. Now, on average across OECD countries, you can see nine out of ten school leaders say, yeah, you know, climate change and global warming, that's something that we teach that's incorporated in our curriculum. And, you know, it's similar to gender equality. International conflicts, causes of poverty, migration, hunger, malnutrition, even pandemics.
According to school leaders, a lot of efforts in school to embed those global forces into the school curriculum Well, let me ask students with a different picture. Yeah. You know, eight out of ten students say looking after the global environment is important to me. The climate agenda for young people. It's urgent, it's important. It's personal. But when we ask them, you know, can you do something about it or do you think what you do is going to make a difference to other people in other places, the bars got a lot shorter. This is the fundamental issue of our times.
We have made young people passive consumers of prefabricated knowledge. We do not give them that agency to mobilise their cognitive, social and emotional resources that co-agency to work with others to create the future. And that collective agency, which means that the whole is always bigger than the sum of the parts Some things we can do very practically, you know, after this pandemic we've seen particularly, you know, vocational education and training is so important Most of the backbone of our economies during the lockdown was about those kinds of jobs.
So you need to think about how we can provide more flexible and resilient vocational training, how we can use technology in better ways, how we can focus training, more on future oriented jobs and then how we can enhance a broader range of cognitive, social and emotional competencies. Let's go through these points First of all, providing more flexible, resilient means for reskilling can allow for more training breaks extensions, greater modularisation getting away from these lumpy ways of big kind of programmes towards getting people greater ownership over what they learn and how they learn and when they learn and where they learn.
Skills future in Singapore is actually a great example of that. We should also be more reactive, fast tracking, licensing, understanding what people know and add value to this rather than sending them so long programmes. Sometimes, you know, you can ask people or offer people to directly look for a qualification rather than going through the program because they might have learned what you want to assess in other ways, but also need to be become better at, you know, rapidly retraining people in the pandemic you know, people in the airline industry lost their jobs, but in the health industry, they needed jobs, quite similar qualifications.
Now, can we move people from where they are to where there is the future? Lots of important questions. And then I mentioned already, you know, using technology better, you know, creating new learning experiences that make learning more interactive, more granular, more adaptive to the learning needs of people, using learning analytics to see how different learners learn differently.
And to engage with those differences in more productive or passive ways. And then, you know, one of the biggest mistakes that we made in education over the last almost centuries, is to divorce learning and assessment. You ask young people to pile up years and years of learning. And then one day we tell them, come back and tell me everything in a very narrow, constrained kind of setting that distorts learning, that distorts teaching.
The future is about reintegrating learning and assessment, making them two sides of the same coin. And technology can actually facilitate this, would become better, you know, to reconcile skill demands with individual career aspirations. We can try to work harder on forecasting economic demands using methods of data projection. They exist, but also, you know, to get a better sense of what stakeholders think about the future, what they know about the future. We're training people more rapidly in the short term.
In the long term, focus more on the kinds of skills that, you know, are the results of the big drivers of change that are highlighted at the beginning. We don't know the future. But it's very clear we understand the broad trends that influence that future and that could shape different futures. The better we become at imagining alternative futures and to understand the consequences, the better we will be prepared for the future that eventually arises. And one thing is clear. You know, we used to learn to do the work and suddenly learning has become the work. This notion of lifelong learning is really at the centre.
In the past, all of this was quite simple. You know, you went to school, to university, you got a job and you retired. Today, we need to give greater emphasis to early childhood education and care. Some of the skills that are highlighted are curiosity, empathy, courage, leadership, when you're a five year old, those are skills. When you are 25 year old, they've almost become personality traits. You can say that school was the education of the 20th century foundations, academic skills, early childhood education and care is the education of the 21st century.
That's where the foundations for the century are really built. And then, you know, tertiary education needs to become a lot more transversal, better integrating the world of work in the world of learning. And then, you know, good jobs will always be great places of learning, integrating learning and working. But, you know, it's easy to say it raises some really, really tough questions.
Who should pay for that? How do we share the costs and benefits between individuals, employers, governments, it's not so clear the answer. In school you say that governments pick up the ball. But what about learning at the workplace? What are the incentives? Who sets the standards? Who knows what good learning is when it gets beyond institutions? How do we recognise that learning and I mean learning that is not about getting a degree, this learning of the workplace, learning in life?
How do we understand where people add value to their skills? How do employers understand what people know one can do rather than just reading outdated certificates? Who will train the trainers? You know, what do we do with people outside firms? For the unemployed, you can say, Okay, you know, governments should pick up the bill. That's pretty obvious. But, you know, what about people at risk of losing their job? Who invests in the truck drivers today?
Ten years from now, you know, they may all get automated. How do we make sure that today those people see a future, understand the future, learn from it, build their future, investing up front rather than letting people fall into a big hole? What do we do as people want to change jobs? Often you know, job related training is about improving in your current job.
But where do we learn for our next job? What do we do with people in the gig economy who are not in formal employment. You know, they manage their own lives. How do they access that learning when they have no employer sponsoring that education? And then you know, there are always tough questions around governance now and their new forms of work.
Sometimes it becomes more difficult to raise taxes from that because you're not in employment, you earn money. It's much harder to capture. Decentralised information means less control. It's harder to understand the big picture. We know how to capture administrative data, but we're not so great when it comes to actually look at the big data sources that arise from people's behaviour. We see the link between education and jobs weakening.
And that means, you know, the job of governments is really, really becoming tougher. And we need to predict, you know, more rapid changes in skilled advice and prepare for them. Some people have called all of that a race between technology and education. You know, before the first industrial revolution, neither technology nor education mattered much for the vast majority of people.
But then came the industrial revolution, suddenly moving technology ahead of the skills of people and created so much social pain. People were left so badly behind before because they're not prepared for the new ways of working. But then, you know, we made people compatible with the ways of working, of the industrial economy. You know, we train them, you know, come to work, discipline and the foundation skills and so on, and it created generations of prosperity.
Much of what we have today was built on that paradigm and built on that education but you know, now we see the digital revolution doing exactly that same thing again, moving technology ahead of the skills of people. It's creating the same social pain. Even people with university degrees sometimes have difficulties finding a good job.
And employers say we cannot find the people with the skills we need. The question is again, how do we move people once more ahead of the technologies of our times? And here at this conference you're going to struggle to find answers to those questions. And that is so important. We need to educate people for their future, not for our past.
We need to think about the cognitive, the social, the emotional foundations for our future.
Thank you very much.
END OF TALK; START OF Q&A SESSION
Nick Alchin: Thanks everyone for such attention. He's a compelling speaker and I think we can all appreciate the breadth and scope of someone who's got a really global perspective. As we think about shaping, learning to shape the future, we know we'll do that in the context of other social changes. So the backdrop here is so valuable to us. I think we have Dr Schleicher online?
Andreas Schleicher: Yes.
Nick Alchin: Hi. Welcome. Thank you so much for your talk. I hope you can hear me.
Andreas Schleicher: Yes, I can.
Nick Alchin: Welcome. We can all see you here. So one thing that we're going to be doing here is having real chance to interact and we've got a good chunk of time. So please, as we as we go, do think if you would like to ask a question, if you do, please come to the front, to the microphone and we'll be taking questions from our online colleagues too. So many things to ask.
I'll start off with one. You spoke, Dr. Schleicher, about the skills that are needed, and you said not just cognitive skills but emotional skills, leadership skills, empathy skills. And, you know, that resonates with us very much, I think. And it's entirely aligned with what many educators have been saying for such a long time. But the question is still there and it's still urgent.
So why do you think it is that that's been recognised, progressive educators for a long time, but it's still hard to find traction on, and we're still asking the same questions after so many decades. Why do you think that is? And do you think there's anything that we should be doing about it, that it's obvious that we're not doing that we should be doing?
Andreas Schleicher: Yeah, you know, I think that recognition of that is for obvious reasons. Labour markets, societies increasingly reward those social emotional skills. Now can you live with yourself, can you live with other people? Can you live. with the planet? Those things have become urgent and important, but they are hard to ingrain in today's education systems. In fact, you know, we tested creativity at age ten and age 15.
And what we've found in every jurisdiction for which we have data is that 15 year olds are worse than ten year olds on creativity. Now, if I would tell you this for mathematics, you know, 15 year olds doing worse in mathematics than ten year olds you would tell me, Well, there must be something terribly wrong in our school systems, but for creativity, we don't ask ourselves that question.
And then, you know, the answer is that, you know, much of what we do in education is to watch, you know, educating for compliance was established ways of thinking. And we started to teach, you know, science like religion sometimes, you know, make people, you know, believe in certain paradigms, ideas, and then, you know, asking them to rehearse those and reproduce them.
I think that's really the current way of of learning and teaching often works against those social emotional skills. Now, we ask students, you know, to learn collaboratively and then we put them in rows behind individual desks and test whether they are better than their neighbour. So a lot of what we do is it's hard to reconcile with the need for social emotional skills.
That's why there is this discrepancy. Our evaluation and assessment systems often work against the teaching of social emotional skills. I do believe the answer lies in making those better visible. You know, you will not change, not improve what you cannot see. As long as we don't give educators better signals about those social, emotional skills, I think it's going to be hard to see systemic change.
You always find some who do that really well for whom that is a priority, but you will not see that happen at a kind of systemic level.
Nick Alchin: OK, thank you very much. I think we've got one brave soul has come to the front straightaway. Thank you very much. One question from our live audience here.
Student: Welcome, thank you. Your presentation was really interesting. I was wondering, do you see climate change and artificial intelligence posing similar or different challenges to our education system? And are the solutions to them different or similar?
Andreas Schleicher: Yeah, I know it's an interesting question. In fact, I think there are certainly some similarities. I think our capacity to imagine both climate change and artificial intelligence, you know, mean that we have to be more imaginative. We have to be able to think in terms of alternative futures. We cannot, you know, predict tomorrow, but we have to learn to think more creatively about alternative versions of the future.
And prepare ourselves, seek through the consequences. And so I see that there are many, many similarities between this I think that making better tradeoffs between the present and the future, you know, having people think, learn to understand connections between things that may seem unconnected. I think those are all similarities. So I do believe in education that, you know, invests in people's imagination, that invests in their willingness to take a, you know, responsibility to mobilise their cognitive, social, emotional resources, I think will be one that, you know, will help us probably find answers to the climate challenge and be willing to find the answers.
You know, I think this is not just a question of capacities. It's also a question of mindset of, you know, making better tradeoffs between our world today and our world tomorrow. And so in a sense, there there is similarities. And the question about artificial intelligence, you know, pushes us to think much harder about what makes us as human, again.
You know, we know how to educate second class robots. You know, people are good at repeating what we told them. But the question of what makes us human is the one that artificial intelligence finally pushes us to answer. You know, in the past we could have aided we could, you know, find our ways in many, many different ways.
But now I think we need to learn that, you know, we accept it in the past, you know, robots taking over our routine manual skills. But the fact that they are now challenging routine cognitive skills, I think pushes us to work much harder about this. But I don't see sort of that the challenge is fundamentally different from what we see on the climate front.
I think once again, you know, can you live with yourself? Can you live with other people? Can you live with the planet? I think those are the best preparations for us also on the climate front.
Nick Alchin: Thank you. Thank you. I think we have some questions from our online audience.
Sinead Collins: So Dorian has sent a question in that says, I agree with your point about the need to divorce learning from assessment. But this would require a significant paradigm and mindset shift from students to parents to universities and employers. Where do we start?
Andreas Schleicher: Well, you know, actually, as I mentioned in my talk, I do believe that technology makes this much easier than we think. You know, while you study with technology, the computer can give you quite granular feedback on how you learn. And we can see actually that is now not just technically possible. We see that happening. You can make learning and assessment two sides of the same coin.
Teachers can see how different students learn differently. And I think those possibilities will gradually bring back the assessment and learning together. The question is, how do we do that? You know, on the recipient side, I think your point on employers is well taken. You know, we need to move away from, you know, lumpy long degrees to what's, you know, giving people smaller signals on smaller increments of learning we need to give people greater ownership over what they learn, how they learn, when they learn and where they learn.
And, you know, that will be more complex. And I think employers need to understand that recognising people's capabilities will be more complex than just looking at a degree. So I think that on the recipient side, I see some challenges on the supply side, actually, I think we have now really real possibilities to reintegrate that learning and assessment.
And by the way, you know, if you go back, you know, a few hundred years, that's what we always used to do. Learning was all about apprenticeship. You know, always learn with people. You worked on real problems that had real consequences. And in a way, I think we used to do it in this way. You would always get feedback from your mentor and I think that separation of of learning and assessment is in historical terms, a fairly recent phenomenon that came with the industrialisation of education.
So I do think there's every chance for this to to work out supported by technology. But, you know, the question really is can people on the demand side, employers, society navigate that ambiguity? Can they actually read those signals can they translate them into salaries and job opportunities? I think that's the part that we need to work on.
Nick Alchin: OK, thank you. I'm going to follow up with one question, if I can on that, because, you know, I think you come across as a real optimist about technology and education and how adaptive technologies can provide guidance and adaptive feedback, which of course, may indeed prove to be the case. But you also spoke about the possibility of technology exacerbating inequalities and it reminded me of a rather chilling comment
I came across from the Kenyan educator, Allan Okoth, who said, yes, kids will be learning from robots, but rich people's kids will still be learning from people, which I thought was perhaps perhaps worth a thought. So do you think there's the possibility that technology or sorry, how can we use technology in ways which ensure that doesn't end up being divisive and that it ends up providing not second class and first class education, but a universally accessible education, which may be to the benefit of all?
Andreas Schleicher: Yeah, you know, I think it's a good question. I don't think it's a very new question. You know, I think we have that problem today. You know, rich kids go to better schools than poorer kids. And I also think we need to realise that, you know, learning is not a transactional business. It's always a social and relational enterprise.
You know, technology is never going to replace the human side. I do think, you know, technology can and extend great teaching. It can, you know, give teachers better tools and it pushes teachers to assume other roles, you know, the kind of role of instructor is perhaps less important, now that knowledge transmission is something that technology is probably going to do better than than than people but as a teacher, you'll become a really important mentor.
You become a coach, a kind of designer of innovative learning environments. You become a kind of person who accompanies people maybe over a much longer periods of their lives. And I do believe we will be able to the use teaching and teachers in very, very different ways. The risk of of a divide is very real. But, you know, that is not very different from where we currently stand.
And I do believe actually and that's where I am an optimist, that technology can help us to make education more not less equitable. We shouldn't believe that the fact that the teacher stands in front of 30 students is an equitable outcome. You know, I think students learn differently, and I think we need better tools to understand how students learn differently and engage with that diversity more productively.
And I do think equity requires a more adaptive and more interactive and more granular learning environment. And I don't think we can do that with a kind of one size fits all approaches. So in a sense, you know, I think there is an opportunity to make education more equitable through technology, there's a risk that it will become less equitable.
And I think that is the task for public policy to ensure that we harness the opportunities in the way that they said, well, there's no automaticity in this. I think, you know, as we currently see, we have often very inequitable opportunities. And but we also see educational systems that have become very, very good. And you know, aligning resources resonates.
And therefore, I think it is in our hands, it's not an inevitable outcome of technology to yield more inequitable opportunities.
Nick Alchin: You know, the future is open, right? Hence learning to shape the future. So I'm sure there's lots of questions. Please do come down to the front as you think about all these fascinating ideas. In the meantime, some more from our online colleagues.
Sinead Collins: So one coming in here, a very general question. In a world where many economically developed countries are defunding education, who do you anticipate can make education a force for change?
Andreas Schleicher: Yeah, you know, I think currently we live in a difficult period. I think after this pandemic there is a real crunch in financial terms. But if you look at this over the last years, you know, education actually got quite a bit more resources than most education system, at least in the OECD area, for which I have data, funding
in education has increased in many countries quite a bit. But I'm not sure we have spent that money very wisely. Actually, I also see that, you know, the relationship between investments in education outcomes is very tenuous. You know, I do think we need to think hard about how we deploy resources more effectively and more equitably. And I think unless education provides better answers to this, it's going to be very, very hard for systems to go to their finance minister to with a request for more money. I mean, education is not in a really good place and it's evidence based. So I think investing in in better evidence about the effectiveness of spending choices and ensuring that, you know, we that we make education not less of an art, but more of a science. I do think that is really required to make success more predictable to ensure that resources I think then, you know, we will make every case.
I mean, our schools today is going to be our economy tomorrow. I think that link is very clear. But the question of how additional resources translate into better outcomes is the one that I don't think we have really good answers today.
Nick Alchin: Thank you.
Please come down slowly. Yeah.
Aman Singh Chauhan: Thank you, Professor. My question around technology is something to do with people and their anxiety. So not so much as in technology changing the world, but the speed at which it is changing the world. We are in school and learners have a wide variety of bus uncles and aunts to the little ones in K1 and K2.
What would be your advice as to at what speed we should be adopting technology? Because the speed at which it is changing, it's just almost impossible to catch up. Is there any mechanism or device you have in mind that you are constantly not feeling that you have been left behind again and again and yet again?
Andreas Schleicher: I think this is a very good question and a question that I ask myself often. You know, the biggest test for us are humans is really our capacity of engaging with that speed of change. Now, can we learn more quickly? Can we unlearn more quickly and relearn more quickly when the context changes?
And and I think in, you know, every day you wake up in a new world and I think this this stretch is putting enormous you know, weight on, on, on, on humans. What it suggests to me is, again, you know, we should put greater emphasis on the social and emotional dimension of learning on student wellbeing. Teachers need to become good social workers, good psychologists, good mentors, good coaches.
You know, that is where I think the answer lies that we help students better to adapt. When it comes to technology, you know, personally, I think the best technology in education is the one that is more present but less visible in a sense that, you know, I don't think the answer lies in having students constantly interact with technology.
In fact, I think that makes learning more superficial, more reactive, more scripted. And I think the answer really lies in good diagnostics and good ways for students actually to get feedback, for teachers to understand different learning patterns and so on. So I do think, you know, that's where I think the use of technology is more promising and less threatening for humans.
You know, it's not about, you know, using every day a new, new gadget. It's about, you know, I'm not actually worried about technological skills. People will pick them up, you know, even without, you know, school. I'm more worried about the human capacities to use technology. To give you an example, you know, distinguishing fact from opinion, you know, literacy today is no longer about reproducing or extracting knowledge.
It's about constructing knowledge. Google is going to give you 100,000 answers to every question you have to figure out what is right and what is wrong. Are people capable of doing that? Now, those are the kind of cognitive, social, emotional capabilities that we should be worrying about and then, you know, keep technology at its best and avoid that
it really distracts from the development of those skills, which, again, are very much a human experience and one that require great teaching. You know, one of the findings from our survey on social emotional skills is that the best predictor for social emotional skills is the quality of student teacher relationships in a way that the students feel you know, that that teacher, you know, understands who they are, who they want to become, accompanies them on that journey.
You have students with greater creativity, with greater curiosity with greater empathy, more trust, more resilience, and a greater willingness actually to invest effort and so on. So I think that's really where, you know, the technology should accompany that process, but we should focus on human capabilities to use it and not get too much distracted by the technology.
But your question is a very real one. Will we be able to adapt quickly enough? You know, humans started out with time changes that were, you know, over generations. In the past, you know, you could always turn to your parents or older people because they knew the world really, really well.
And the world changed very slowly. If today you ask older people, you never know. if what they tell you is timeless wisdom or just outdated bias. You have to find the answers on your own. And I think that is a very, very big stretch. .
Teacher2: Thank you. Dr. Schleicher, I'm interested in your views on an aspect of the future which is indicated in some of your graphs that we haven't touched upon much. In many areas of the world we're seeing an ageing population, increasing lifespan and if we're fortunate, increasing health span. What do you see as the challenges and the opportunities for school education in particularly for preparing for that future scenario, particularly against a background of increasing technological acceleration?
Andreas Schleicher: I see two implications. One on the schooling front really is that you cannot educate people for their life. You can get people ready to continue to learn throughout their lives. The longer you live, the faster the world changes, the more you need to be able to adapt to changing worlds, to unlearn, to relearn and so on, and to develop those prerequisites.
You know, the degree that you get in school is just a starting point for your next phase of learning throughout life And I think to give people that motivation, that capability, that willingness to engage with and certainly to continue to learn, I think is probably in school far more important than the specific knowledge and skills that students acquire.
So I think that's on the schooling front. But the other perhaps more obvious part is that we need to make learning much more life-long in the sense that schools and universities for that matter need to engage much more with that whole breadth of learning opportunities so that we we really spread out those learning experiences much more.
And again, that is not an easy challenge. You know, if you know today that if you're a truck driver, trucks get automated in the next decade possibly. You know, do you have actually that vision of what you want to become next? Is there someone who is going to help you to find your way, to support you, to encourage you to take that learning?
So in a sense, I think the schooling part is the easy answer. I think the harder answer really is to to tap into that energy of people to continue to learn and that curiosity and provide opportunities over over the life cycle. And the same, I think is true for teachers. Teachers are used to teach young people and, you know, lose sight of them when they graduate.
I do think, you know, in the future probably we need a kind of longer term mentorship and relationship between the educator and the learner that extends well beyond the institutional framework
Nick Alchin: Thank you.
Teacher 3: Hello, Dr. Schleicher. For me, the graphic that really struck me was the one where you show the Industrial Revolution sort of upping the need for skills and how humans lag behind it and then got to prosperity. And then here we are again. And I was wondering if you think it's always inevitable, maybe there's something in human nature and on a global scale rather than individual, that means that that will always happen. We'll always have this sort of shooting up and then we're always catching up. Or do you see a way that maybe we can almost get ahead of that curve and keep ourselves ready to be able to meet whatever the future holds instead of waiting for the future and then catching up to it?
Andreas Schleicher: Yeah. You know, another really good question. I think the difference between the Industrial Revolution and what we experience now is, you know, as the previous speaker said, it's really speed. In the Industrial Revolution. We had generation stood that we could, you know, build schools and, you know, educate teachers and we could sort of rely on time. Today that changes every day.
You know, there is an exponential kind of pace in the kind of adaptation needed. And I think that's really the the big difference. And so I think the answer is that, you know, we do not know what's going to happen tomorrow, what's around the next corner. I think the answer really is that we have to become more open to multiple versions of the future.
We have to be able to understand those global trends, shaping education more systematically. And we have to think through what could alternative futures mean for the individual for our society. And the better we are at dealing with multiple futures and preparing ourselves for alternative futures, the better prepared we will be for what eventually happens.
And I think that's what we didn't do in the past. In the past, we basically said, OK, let's imagine what is most likely, prepare ourselves, get ready for this. And then things turn out slightly different. We have to adapt. We have the time for this. I think in the future that will work less and less. So I think we have to be more versatile.
We have to be better able to live and deal with ambiguity. To the extent we are, you know, hopefully we will be very, very successful. But I think the question of equity will come, definitely. You know, those people that are really quick in unlearning and relearning will find ever better opportunities while those who have a hard time with this, I think will have a hard time in adaptation and you can be left very quickly behind and then you know things will move on.
And that is the difference to the industrial age which was a one time paradigm shift and then provided stability and opportunities for people to get on board of that, I'm not sure, we will see that in we will see that flattening of the curve in any time soon because, you know, technological capabilities will continue to accelerate, you know.
Nick Alchin: Thank you. Oh, if I can make a question that relates to some of what you said with one of the sessions earlier today and a topic that's very much alive in our school, you said with regard to climate change that we seem to be covering these issues in schools. According to what school leaders say. But there's a gap between students understanding, if they've covered it, and the belief that they can make a difference.
And you said we have made them too passive and they have no collective agency. And I think we recognise that as a as a sort of as an idea. Can you say a bit more about that and what you think some of the solutions to that might be or things that you've seen working in various parts around the world?
Andreas Schleicher: Yeah, I think that is one of the real issues that we have in education, that we make learners quite passive consumers of pre-fabricated content. We do not give them, you know, enough opportunity to experiment themselves, to find out what new solutions are, to take risks, to learn from and with mistakes. You know, I think agency you develop by doing things not by absorbing things. Some things could be very simple.
In science, why do you listen to a teacher explaining the results of an experiment when you can do that experiment at least in a virtual laboratory? And I think we need to provide more opportunities for people to do things, to take responsibility. In that sense, I know for many, vocational education is a last resort, not a first choice.
But I actually think vocational education often does better in that, you know, it makes people work with real people, learn with real people. It makes you sort of work on real problems. It makes you work on things that have real consequences in the real world. And I think that is very important to develop that agency. Also is not just individual agency, it's also co-agency - understanding that we always work in interaction and we need to be able to develop that agency and interaction and also to build that collective agency so that people can work together as teams and that the whole is always bigger than the sum of
its parts. I think in the design of our learning environments, we need to put much, much greater emphasis on this. And I know it's not the most efficient way of learning, and that's where the difficulty lies. You know, it's much faster if I teach you all sorts of formulas and equations or results rather than you figuring out these things.
But I, I do believe teaching fewer things at greater depths and giving people more room actually to, to learn by doing and learn in interaction, I think is the answer that will probably help us because knowledge without agency has very little value in the world today. You know, what you know, and what you can do is a starting point.
But if you cannot mobilise your cognitive, social and emotional resources to take action, you're not going to make a difference.
Nick Alchin: Thank you. You've given us, I think, a lot. I hope that affirms some of the things that we've talked about and are doing. And I think a lot of the challenges as you talked about, not just technology, but human capabilities to interpret technology about teachers not being replaced, but being amplified about the importance of social emotional learning, being good coaches, being good mentors, you talked about compliance or education for compliance as the enemy, which I think is a topic close to many of our hearts.
And I think you talked a memorable phrase. You said not less of an art, but education needs to be more of a science, and we need to look at what we're doing. So I think, you know, you've given us so much to think about and a question that you asked was when does timeless wisdom become outdated bias?
Another really powerful question for us to reflect on where we're at and our old beliefs. So huge thank you from from all of us here and from our virtual audience. It's been really inspirational and we're very grateful for your time indeed. Thanks so much.