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Has the Education of the Future Started or is it About to Start?

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Gabriel Mario Rodrigues – Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABMES

“Time, like the world, has two hemispheres: a higher and visible, which is the past, another inferior and invisible, which is the future. In the middle of both hemispheres are the horizons of time, which are the instants of the present that we are living, where the past is over and the future begins” (Father António Vieira)

I have always been concerned with learning the future because of the changes that began to happen in every school in the world. And to illustrate what I think, I started the last meeting of the ABMES’ Board of Directors showing the video of Jack Ma, one of China’s richest men and co-founder of Alibaba (the Chinese Amazon).

He says he was a university professor and the classes he gave were based on books. He even wondered what it would be like if he spent 10 years trying all this and coming back to teach the losses and gains. For him, if we continue to teach only what we learned more than 200 years ago, our children will not be able to compete with machines, which are much smarter. We must therefore teach unique things: we will need to teach what they will be unable to learn.

His focus is on social-emotional competences, in which the important thing is to know our ethical values, creativity, critical thinking, relationships with people, teamwork and develop skills in culture, sports and the arts.

The challenge of higher education institutions when envisioning new times will always involve the choice of truly relevant content, new methodologies, curriculum flexibilization, creation of new environments, use of technologies and teacher preparation.

Thinking about the future is a risky and often futile exercise, many people think. It is indispensable to have an appropriate view of the times. But despite the warnings, we do not resist the temptation to imagine what will happen to us, seeking, therefore, to grasp a destiny that so often escapes us. Or, as Reinhart Koselleck says:

“I am interested in understanding how the past is inscribed in our present experience and how the future is already insinuated in present history – the horizon does not exist to bring us back to the origin, but to allow us to measure all the distance that we have to go”.

For Filipe Oliveira, a professor at the Institute of Economics and Management (ISEG) at the University of Lisbon, innovation is not a novelty in education, remembering that it has always sought to bring all kinds of news to school – from the appearance of writing , from the blackboard, typography, the press, through the invention of the cinema, radio, television, the slide projectors. The teacher always had to illustrate his words with pictures. “We live just one more repetition of this type of phenomenon with the appearance of modern technology and the Internet,” he says.

For over sixty years I have remembered the American educator Leo Buscaglia telling his experience as an elementary school teacher, where he based his classes on activities at a supermarket. Students learned arithmetic and grammar by imitating shopping and reading the ads of the goods. Geography was learned by researching the origin of food. With the years of study, they knew the operation of the refrigerator and how the market was built. They did marketing research and business administration. And at the end of the year there was an exhibition of jobs and students ready for a job.

In what way can you foresee what a classroom of the future will be like – and what could even be a classroom of the present? It is a room where in addition to the tables and chairs can also exist sofas or stools because the students are not all doing the same things at the same time.

The challenge for teachers and students is different: instead of transmissive teaching, we try to teach with spaces of interaction, projects and research. The key is not to lose sight of the essential, the training of future and current teachers. I am referring to the initial and continuing training of teachers. The idea is to develop new methodologies using not only new technologies, but also new educational spaces.

In addition to training the project, as Buscaglia required, should seek to articulate with business and technological partners, from the area of ​​equipment to that of new technologies in order to think about new ways of teaching. In a school that we want closer to the students and that does not just transmit knowledge, the trainees would leave with tools that they could apply in their day to day.

Even the “classroom” concept deserves a fresh look and be renamed: “innovative educational environments.” It is a room with five or more spaces to create, investigate, present, share and develop. Extensions that communicate in the same area, with size capable of supporting five to ten mesons.

The idea was the subject of the debate Fronteiras XXI, a program of the Portuguese channel RTP3. These areas allow students to learn in a more dynamic environment, where interdisciplinary and curricular articulation between the different subjects of the various disciplines are encouraged. For the place, the teacher encourages the student to bring  their equipments and use them in the classroom – bring your own device – such as tablets, smartphones, laptops, notebooks, etc.

And if they want to know of initiatives happening, the youth spread in the Campus Party 2019, which was happening up to last Sunday, the 17th, in São Paulo. There were close to 130 thousand young people disputing space, innovation, creativity, but above all knowledge. Wonderful!

Portal Porvir has selected 42 lectures and workshops for those who are connected in education and technology. From next week we will discuss some of these lectures. This year, the highlight was due to the large number of presentations on learning maker, hand mass education, also called hands-on education.

This educational mode is highlighted, as Paulo Bilkstein, a professor at Stanford University, asserts, since one of the most important things about mass education is to make the teacher pay more attention to the process than to the product, which is paradigm shift very large compared to traditional education, which looks at the proof, which is the product.

Resuming the future, we have the flexibilization of the curriculum proposed by the BNCC. Somehow it had been promoted in many schools, but in some of them it was not possible to move forward because the teachers were resistant to the idea. If there is praise for teachers, recognized as innovators in projects and programs with such proactivity, it should be emphasized that teaching could be much more developed if they did not put as many barriers to change as usual. “Long live corporatism and down the future of education,” say the intransigent, because even the most difficult part of this initiative is “people.”

Although very slowly, very slowly, we are able to change behaviors, being that, for that, it is necessary to conquer the teachers, to give them formation.

Here is a reflection: who shaped the teacher? The faculty that has licensed it, the environment, the union / association or the selective / vestibular ones that impose themselves dictatorially to what “must” be taught and thus there is a not equal but opposite force that takes teacher and student to kneel to the selective exigencies, at least in public?

It is necessary to emphasize and with that to make justice that the teachers continue very attached to the programs, they have to fulfill them to prepare the students for the exams because the results of these are the image of the school.

There will be a time when we will need to evaluate the classrooms of the future. The first indications may mean improvements in student motivation, and a reduction in school failure. However, it is necessary to wait at the end of the cycle for the conclusions to be well supported.

It should be remembered, however, that the results of these rooms will not be immediate, even though the great growth in the country can occur in high school with the BNCC, that is to say in the years 2025-2030.

Of course, I could not forget the evolution of Online Teaching, which in my view over time, contrary to what I wrote here, will concentrate all the education of young people and adults and I believe too, a good part of the children with certainty. On the screens or in the clouds will be all the information to produce the knowledge.

The organization whatever it is, that formatting the best screens to teach, (IT giants are already in this) will replace the school of the future. Whoever produces the best storytelling that can entertain and argue and at the same time induce people to learn will win the Future Education Cup.



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Master of Arts in Political Science, California State University Northridge. Twenty five years experience in executive functions at Brazilian colleges and universities. Writer, lecturer. and consultant is, presently, educational editor for Brazil Monitor