Higher Education Conference of the Americas and the WISE World Innovation Summit

This is a historic time, a time to observe and realize a massive disruption in education. This disruption began approximately 20 years ago when people questioned the effectiveness of rote learning, and consequently integrated new ideologies in education. The intent was to change students from being people who wait to be told what to do, to creative people who naturally use what they have learned and apply it to solve problems. The principle was to produce people who could think on their own, and to think divergently. This brought forth the idea of teaching by construction, so that the learner would develop an innate sense of discovery and a growth mindset. Ideally, this would create independent and creative thinkers. The beginnings were slow: many new ideas succeeded, and others did not. HOW to teach was the focus.

Questioning the bigger concept of education was missed. Because of the advent of the massive burst of technology, new ways to communicate, distribute information and to share ideas evolved. People outside of the “normal” education spheres actively questioned education, disrupting the delivery of content and rethinking instruction. This is not just digitizing our old way of doing, using the concept of education that is over 100 years old – they are actively shifting the concept of education.

In the last two months, two ground-breaking global education summits occurred. The first was the Conference of the Americas on Higher Education, held in Montreal, Canada. The second was WISE, World Innovation Summit in Education, held in Doha, Qatar. These conferences served as a venue for those in positions of authority, who have the ability and the vision to create massive changes in education, and that is exactly what they are doing: creating massive changes. The presidents, deans and professors of universities and colleges were present, CEO’s and founders of local and international NGO’s, prime ministers and presidents, the first lady of Turkey, her excellency the Queen of Qatar, and founders and funders of the largest educational technology companies who are disrupting education as we now know, were all there. The key ideas that were discussed are critical to leaders in societies, as much as to parents of any aged student.

The world has changed, and it is changing at an exponential rate; but this is just the beginning of the roller coaster ride that we are all on. Nothing is stagnant anymore. Change is rampant. To keep up with the change our leaders of the future must be role models in the way they think, to know how to think divergently, to be visionaries, to value humanity and learn from others. They must also have the courage and integrity to speak the truth, the compassion to hear the voice of those who suffer and the wisdom to provide solutions. Education is the future of the world. It is the primary responsibility of educators, parents and leaders to prepare children to solve problems that they themselves have never anticipated. We coexist in this world. Our greatest problems will only be solved once we understand the genius in others, no matter our background, our colour or the geographic area that we live in.

FOUR KEY TAKE-AWAYS FROM THE CONFERENCE OF AMERICAS ON HIGHER EDUCATION, AND WISE

1. Fake News, Fake Facts
a. Our world today lacks truth.
b. How do we navigate in this post-truth world?
c. Looking for education based on values, rather than manipulation.
d. Curriculum is to focus on critical thinking, truth, with a cultural immunity that allows students to have a critical perspective and protect the children from the people who are providing fake truths.

2. Questioning the Purpose of Education
a. What now is the definition of success? To succeed, does intelligence really matter? Can Happiness be the definition of success? (Research is showing that happiness correlates to the amount of human contact.)
b. Academics is extremely important, but other education is undervalued.
c. Social emotional intelligence is the primary driver and therefore should be the focus in education.
d. What is the big data for dignity and empathy?

3. We must now have a Growth Mindset
a. Average stay in a job is 4.5 years in America.
b. Can’t train for doing “things” because most of the jobs in the future haven’t even been thought of right now.
c. Must teach children to love to learn, because the world needs to have life-long learners – this is the future. How do we create a love for learning?
d. Stop sorting students into winners and losers. The future requires learning with one’s heart, head and hands.
e. Everyone has the power in this world to change something in this world.

4. We must Choreograph Learning
a. Teach students to ask questions and solve problems.
b. Go back to the basics of liberal education to question the views thrown at you. For example, how do we take a step away from computers? How does this create a better life?

 

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