Andreas Schleicher is the Director for Education and Skills at the OECD. He’s quite popular in Australia, mostly for his fuzzy progressive rhetoric and willingness to ignore the data produced by his own organisation whenever it doesn’t suit his ideology. Which is most of the time. Never one to let the opportunity presented by a global pandemic pass him by, he used his recent keynote at the optimistically titled Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined on-line seminar, to offer this:
You’re going to have a lot of young people who have experienced different forms of learning in this crisis, learning that was more fun, more empowering. They will go back to their teachers and say: can we do things differently?
I wonder what these different forms of learning are to which he’s referring? Perhaps the thrill of sitting in front of your screen at home, working through lots of questions posted on the School’s LMS? Or perhaps it’s the lesson taught remotely via a power-point, live-narrated by the teacher? He couldn’t mean the whole class Zoom bun fight, featuring a mixture of comedy backgrounds and pupils appearing with hilarious aliases, surely? Or perhaps it’s the desperate attempt of ‘flip-teaching’ to make a comeback via teacher-produced YouTube videos?
Children miss their friends; they miss the routine of School; they miss the human connection that is central to learning (and I don’t just mean the teachers they like). There will be some teacher up-skilling, aspects of which can be taken forward and incorporated into standard teaching when we are back to normal. But the idea that Covid-19 will bring about some educational revolution, where children realise that auto-didacticism is a valid model for mass education, is a fanciful notion to be taken seriously by zero educators who consider themselves to be serious about their craft.
When so-called futurists make predictions about what percentage of future jobs do not yet exist, it’s frustrating that we have to wait years for them to be proved wrong. In the case of Schleicher’s prediction above, we should have our answer before the year is out.