Keynote: Andreas Schleicher
Learning in the 21st century – Policy lessons from around the world
A generation ago, teachers could expect that what they taught would last for a lifetime of their students. Today, schools need to prepare students for more rapid change than ever before, for jobs that have not yet been created, using technologies that have not yet been invented, to solve problems that we don’t yet know will arise. Schooling today needs to be about ways of thinking, involving creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making; about ways of working, including communication and collaboration; about tools for working, including the capacity to recognise and exploit the potential of new technologies; and, last but not least, about the capacity to live in a multi-faceted world as active and responsible citizens. In today’s schools, students typically learn individually and at the end of the school year, we certify their individual achievements. But the more interdependent the world becomes, the more we need great collaborators and orchestrators. For a more inclusive world, we also need people who can appreciate and build on different values, beliefs, cultures. The conventional approach in school is often to break problems down into manageable bits and pieces and then to teach students how to solve these bits and pieces. But in modern economies, we create value by synthesising different fields of knowledge, making connections between ideas that previously seemed unrelated, which requires being familiar with and receptive to knowledge in other fields.
To make this happen will require very different learning environments. Learning environments, that encourage student engagement; ensure that learning is collaborative; are highly attuned to students’ motivations and acutely sensitive to individual differences, use assessments that emphasize formative feedback, and promote connections across activities and subjects, both in and out of school.
Such learning environments do, in turn, require a very different calibre of teachers. When teaching was about explaining prefabricated content, education could tolerate low teacher quality. And when teacher quality was low, governments tended to tell their teachers exactly what to do and exactly how they want it done, using prescriptive methods of administrative control and accountability. What the most effective education systems have done is to make teaching a profession of high-level knowledge workers.
But people who see themselves as candidates for the professions are not attracted by schools organized like an assembly line, with teachers working as interchangeable widgets. You therefore see a very different work organization in high performing systems, with the status, professional autonomy, and the high-quality education that go with professional work, with effective systems of teacher evaluation and with differentiated career paths for teachers.
The challenges are tough but this presentation will bring together available evidence from around the world to demonstrate that the job can be done.
Panel: Andreas Schleicher + Michel Schröder + Kevin Heidenreich + Ilona Bernsdorf