Educators – Keep Up With the Future

For educators it’s so obvious that it’s not often enough acknowledged that our professional work is all about preparing young people for the future. We know, deep down, that when we preside over forms of education that don’t take full and effective notice of the future, however uncertain, are a failure to fulfill our duty and responsibilities to our students.

Especially in the field of technology and particularly technological changes’ impacts on society there is a reality that once something new comes to the public consciousness there is a tendency to over-anticipate the impact in the short term and under-estimate the long term impact. one of the results of this is that people’s first reaction to something like Artificial Intelligence is to get very excited, but then when they don’t see immediate impact in their own lives personally they downgrade their expectations to the point of disregarding the long term impacts for them. When those long term impacts arrive, too often people aren’t adequately prepared and there may even be anger as the effects take over.

So, as educators today in a world that sees the timeframes of change getting shorter and shorter we have a great need to keep up our understanding of future changes and to be actively engaged in the debates and discussions about their implications for the lives of our pupils. And, incidentally, this is not just important for the science teachers, though the excitement and anticipation of what’s possible in the future can certainly play a big part in motivating students to pursue the sciences and to be interested and excited to learn.

However, my experience is that too often teachers struggle for sources of good, up to date and informed information. I believe educators could do a lot worse than to follow the work of Mr Peter Diamandis.

Peter DiamandisPeter Diamandis 2S

Who is Peter Diamandis? He’s best known for being founder and Chairman of the X-Prize, as well as being the co-founder of the California based Singularity University (with Ray Kurzweil). Between them they have access to inside knowledge on the changes taking place in many major areas of invention, innovation and those areas where change is going to have the biggest impact in the future.

In January 2020, along with Steven Kotler, will be publishing a new book – The Future is Faster Than You Think. In the run up to the book coming out he’s sharing excerpts from the book weekly through a fascinating and some amazing email newsletters. In the last few months Diamandis has been blowing my mind with amazing and very understandable (for a non scientist) information on the current forces that are changing our world; 5G, 3D Printing, expansion of the mind, VR, AR, Artificial Intelligence, future of food, sensors, health and wellbeing,

Here’s Peter Diamandis himself summing up some of these issues and their implications at the annual conference at Singularity University:

 

One of the best ways for teachers and educators to keep up is to subscribe to his email newsletters, starting with ‘Abundance Insider’ – full details at his website:

Peter Diamandis Website

To finish, if Diamandis is right about even half of his predictions, and particularly the timescales, then we are looking at an amazing and exciting decade ahead. Such a time of phenomenal change offers enormous opportunities for our students but also poses challenges for those ‘left behind.’ We need to be informed.

Global Education Conference

Copy of Copy of 2019 Global Education Conference - Twitter Header

Educators are busy people and ‘one-size-fits-all’ professional development in schools is often a bad use of time with too many mismatches between the content and the existing knowledge/ learning levels/ interest/ motivation of the attendee teachers.

So, I believe online learning offers many benefits, especially when it’s copious and varied enough that teachers can pick and choose what’s most relevant for them – and still better when it’s free and accessible.

If there are two people in the world who have done most to offer such options for educators it would be Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon. Lucy started the ball rolling in 2007 and in 2010 was joined by Steve and the initiative has gained momentum every year since. A few weeks ago I shared a link for those schools or teachers who may have wanted to join in with their pupils in the Global Collaboration Week projects.

Now is the time to register for the upcoming Conference. In fact, if you follow the link below you’ll see that there’s still a little time (only a matter of hours) if anyone wants to submit a presentation proposal. These conferences tend to have a strong orientation towards innovative and progressive teaching methodologies, the use of ICT to support and enable learning, especially when it fosters or supports the development of global awareness and global mindedness.

Global Education Conference – Welcome Page and Registration

it’s also well worth filling in the basic information to register with the website as this would give access to the enormous wealth of material contained in the archives from the Conferences in past years. The website already has a list of very interesting keynote speakers for this year’s conference.

More Books To Read

Books

We’re not even 20% in to the new century yet, but apparently it’s not too soon for some people to sit down and brainstorm out a list of the best 100 books of the century.

Regular readers of this blog know what a bookworm I am, so I’m still a sucker for a list like this. So, here is a list that suggests the best books so far this century:

The Guardian – 100 Best Books of the Twenty First Century

There are some excellent choices on the list and some that have now piqued my interest. I have some issues with some writers who are not included.  These include Irvine Welsh, Iain Banks, Hariki Murakami. Also, when one considers the biggest selling genres of books outside fiction there’s very little representation from the Self-Help or Management/ leadership/ Economics/ Business categories and not many biographies.

I have plenty of favourites on the list; Terry Pratchett, Malcolm Gladwell, Mark Haddon, Neil Gaiman, Ali Smith, Yuval Noah Harari, Martin Amis, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes and the book given number one – Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantell.

Still, a worthwhile list with something for everyone – and it’ll soon be Christmas !!

Reaching For Amazing

Amazing

I’ve come to the end of sharing the series of articles that i wrote for Gulf News 6 years ago. The seventh and final piece was one in which I tied together issues which i believe are critical for the future welfare of students, especially in an Asian context;

a) The increasingly rapid commoditization of jobs that require relatively low skill levels and the increasing degree to which AI will compete with Asian workers for these roles, and
b) What some are calling the existential vacuum – the critical factor that young people need to find life meaningful and purposeful in order to gain satisfaction or even happiness from life.

My conclusion was that we only reconcile these two issues through setting out to do amazing work, stretching ourselves and aiming high.

gulfnews-article 7-06102013
(To open the article click on the link above. The pdf document will open either as a new tab or a new browser window)

 

Persistence Tops Talent, Education or Genius

Manu try

For the penultimate article in the series I wrote for Gulf news 6 years ago I focused on persistence and the reasons why it’s far more important in the journey to success than basic talent, genius or education.

(I couldn’t resist using a picture of England winning the Rugby World Cup Semi Final for this article! Swing Low, Sweet Chariot on Saturday for the final ………………)

In emphasising persistence I took three particular examples of people whose persistence I have respected.

gulfnews-article 6-29092013
(To read the article, click on the link above. It will open in either a new browser tab or window)

 

The Merits of Active vs Passive Leisure Activity

volley ball

For my fifth article for Gulf News 6 years ago I turned to the issue of how young people choose to spend their non working time. Firstly, it’s vitally important that young people (or any of us for that matter) have time away from their work and studies. The brain needs to recharge and needs vital time to rest, recover, absorb learning and be energised to take on board more learning effectively. It goes without saying that they also need enough sleep as this is vital time when the brain organises new learning that’s been acquired to make it permanent and to synthesise it with what’s already known.

In the article i sought to differentiate between active and passive forms of leisure activity, stressing the positive nature of the former and how it is to be encouraged by parents. The latter is really just ‘time waste’.

I also emphasised the value in reading purposefully in pursuit of personal goals.

gulf-news-article 5-22-09-2013
(To read the article, click on the link above – it should then open as either a new browser tab or a new window)

 

Cheats Pay a Heavy Price in the Long Term

cheating boxes

Many of us will have seen these recent images from a college exam room, as students were made to wear cardboard boxes on their heads to prevent cheating and copying (did anyone consider the scope for writing notes on the inside of one’s box?)

Whilst many were shocked at such inhumane and demeaning treatment of students, there were also no shortage of weary shrugs as people reflected that it’s really little surprise if this is what the system has been reduced to.

For my fourth article written for Gulf News 6 years ago, I turned to the issue of cheating and an aspect that doesn’t get enough attention – the long term effect and impact on the cheat themselves. In the article i highlighted three examples that had happened in some of the finest seats of learning in the world. Six years later we have new examples, including the collusion between well-heeled parents and agents to secure seats in top Ivy League universities in the US which have already seen one TV actress sent to prison with more to follow.

gulf-news-article 4-15092013

However, I’m still an optimist on the nature of humans. I do believe that as educators we need to be prepared to have the hard conversations with young people – to help them understand that it’s not consistent to believe in a right to high and lofty goals to be achieved by short cuts and acts of low integrity. High goals are great, if we’re prepared to put in the hard work, accept the tough journey for its own intrinsic value as well as the outcome. Young people need to be reminded that the people they put on pedestals have often been hurt, even scarred in the processes that took them to the top.

For proof that the journey is as important as the destination we need only look at all the lottery winners who declare bankruptcy later, failing to make the critical life changes of their new gains because they didn’t travel the road to their wealth. Their acts weren’t dishonest, but they lacked the learning of the journey that would enable them to enjoy the fruits of their labours.

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