The future of education
The future of education and the future of the world of work are closely linked. Even if education should certainly not be reduced solely to the formula of acquiring skills for the labour market, a key issue regarding the future centres on (and will continue to centre on) how our education system needs to be adapted to the structural changes taking place in the European Economic Area in order to be able to ensure employment and prosperity in the future.
In the Lisbon Strategy, the EU resolved to make the European continent the “most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”. However, the European studies carried out by the Foundation show that only one-third of Europeans agree with the statement that their national education system is well prepared for the future – in Germany, this figure is as low as one-quarter of respondents. What is this assessment based on? The following is an attempt to explain it. In the 21st century, Western nations are developing into service-oriented knowledge societies. In this context, lifelong learning is becoming the core competence of the future. However, for a two-thirds majority of European citizens, this lifelong learning does not seem to be facilitated within the current education system.
The educational prospects in society as a whole must be improved. In the future, there will be a special focus on how the State and society can close the gap between the assumption of equal opportunities and the actual existing opportunities to participate sufficiently in education. In particular, efforts must be made to counter the digital divide in society as the prospect of a mobile and flexible education system can – with sustained use and the right application – help to improve educational opportunities for broad swathes of the population. The Foundation’s studies show that 70 percent of German citizens assume that, in the future, electronic media will be used more and more in the learning process. Even today, the new information and communications technologies have changed the way in which knowledge is acquired and shared. Consequently, media literacy will be a key educational issue of the future in all socio-demographic groups at all stages of life. In addition to the technical competence required for using the various media, a more important lesson that needs to be learned is the responsible handling of these media – selecting information and critiquing sources will therefore be crucial skills. Another area that should be prioritised is the teaching of knowledge acquisition strategies as it is only by knowing the right questions to ask that education-related content can be found. Computers are no longer used only to perform tasks faster, they have also evolved as a tool that can be used to define new methods. However, even if the future lies in media-based learning, it must not be forgotten that a sheet of paper with letters on it also contains information.
In a move away from the traditional education system of the Industrial Age, the ABC of education and training in the knowledge age will change: general and humanist education, social and personal skills, innovative thinking and creativity will be taught and learned as disciplines on an equal footing in a lifelong learning process. This will result in the model of a “potential-oriented” education system in Europe, which supports every single pupil in best achieving his or her individual potential. The change in the area of education will once again place the focus on people. And this has potential for the future. After all, education is a window, through which we see into the future – by educating our children we prepare the world of tomorrow, we can shape the future.