Education is the backbone of our economies. Without access to proper schooling, children all over the world suffer from what should be a standard right of human life. Reading, writing, arithmetic, these subjects among others, ensures that young minds are equipped to not just contribute to their respective countries’ societies, but to earn a basic living in the future. However, what has been standardised for generations in modern economies underwent a great disruption — along with the rest of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the United States, over 90% of children had to shift from a traditional classroom setting to at least a hybrid of remote learning. According to the World Economic Forum, during the most intense moments of the crisis, 1.6 billion children’s schooling was disrupted across 190 countries. While wealthy economies might have been able to shift to techniques like remote learning, hundreds of millions of other students suffered.
As with any crisis, human beings adapt rather quickly, and though we made it through, there was plenty that we had to forcibly learn about ourselves. Holes in administrative processes, the sluggishness of student retention, faculty and student burn out, diminished attention spans, were but a few of the results that were demonstrated and endured in educational spheres. As a result, educators, administrators, and politicians have been rethinking educational models.
While some people may only be able to laugh or groan in response to memories of the pandemic, there are others who are seeing the advantages of what was exposed in the styles and techniques of scholasticism. While school districts have returned to some semblance of normalcy, there seems to be a sensation that nothing can even be quite as it was.
Education is being reimagined, no longer in drawn-out, bureaucratic debates, but with immediate action. There is a charge to revitalise education, whether out of sheer desperation and necessity does not matter. Schools the world over have learned things that need to change for the future of education to be better off.
Here are some of the challenges, and ideas that are either being talked about or being implemented.
The global pandemic that disrupted so much of our lives in the last few years sent ripple effects throughout the educational world. COVID-19 exposed that there is a widening gap in inequality for access to education, and with this reality came the stronger sense of urgency to begin rectifying those problems felt by those people groups most vulnerable. Being that a majority of the world’s students come from low income countries, those children didn’t have easy access to technologies, which allowed for distance-learning models.
With these results circulating, new policies to promote an increase in availability for both remote and in person learning are being called for. Where those schools may be lacking, the need for the implementation of new after-school programmes, extra tutoring and other teacher-supported programming would do much to ease the strain of remote access.
During the pandemic, there was a halting placed on much of the testing used to gather results of student learning progress. That disruption caused unforeseeable gaps in the ability for administrators to measure the effects of learning procedures, it also created the opportunity for superintendents to take time to consider new perspectives.
New ideas can be set forth, ideas and models can be discussed, and the very framework for what is measured during testing can be reevaluated to map how certain educational standards and models positively or negatively affect the student body. A reconsideration of how testing even supports instruction is also happening.
The organisation Educational Results Partnership released an article at the end of 2022 in which it stated the predicted, long-term consequences COVID may have on student learning. The article shared that, as a result of school closures, so many students were behind in their learning they may not be able to catch back up. Eventually, that could affect the US economy in terms of a loss of productivity and individual revenue.
A single student could be seen to lose $61,000 worth of earnings over a lifetime compounding to nearly $188 billion dollar fall in the annual GDP by the year 2040. These predictions have spurred the reconsideration of long-term strategies calling for “a development of new architecture that aligns with [the] nation’s goals for education, economics, and employment toward one north star.” The data of this organisation demonstrates that the current systems are not effectively assisting the economic needs and interests of most students. That, in combination with the institution’s inability to accurately gauge student progress through conventional testing means, is cause for new methods.
New Methods Currently Being Considered
The long term strategy they are proposing calls for a broader data set, one that considers economics rather than just the traditional educational system; where students are empowered to guide their own pathways of learning through more than just coursework, but through employment. Information gathered through testing and provided to students throughout their education can guide their choices and inform employers of the skills required for future job placement.
So, whether a student is thinking about becoming a nurse, wanting to join a carpentry apprenticeship, learning photo editing, or training to become a stock market analyst, the results of these measurement models can show them what industries their skills and interests are best suited for.
While technologically enabled learning has been a forefront call and focus among educators, and the advances in technology and the lowering of costs of production have and will make those tools more affordable, it’s not enough. We must not overlook the value of traditional means of education: the teacher.
Technology will not be able to do what an attentive and well-educated teacher can do in a classroom, but the assistance of that tech can reduce strain on teachers. Regular training and development, and simulation based programming can better prepare teachers in the field, that added confidence and care can do much to offset the economic forecasts.