Every Thursday morning I coach English to struggling learners at a local primary school. As I walk to my room, I hear the pupils in their classrooms, chanting their timetables- 3 x 4 is 12, 4 x 4 is 16, 4 x 5 is 20. Part of me rejoices that nothing has changed since I was at school but the more rational me is asking “Why on earth is it still the same?”
Today I read this very scary article by Juval Noah Harari who is a professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the author of a new book on what the future could hold. The prof asks what can we do to prepare our children for the world that awaits them when we have absolutely no idea of what it will look like He writes: “Of course, humans have never been able to predict the future with accuracy. But today it is more difficult than ever before, because once technology enables us to engineer bodies, brains and minds, we can no longer be certain about anything – including things that previously seemed fixed and eternal.”
Prof Juval also says that much of what children are learning today will be irrelevant by 2050. I fear it may already be irrelevant. Who needs to learn their times tables if there is a calculator on every phone? Should our children learn to write…will they ever need that skill? How many of us handwrite anything these days? Is there any point in their learning grammar if an app will correct their mistakes? Why learn to code if AI will do it all?
My take is that all we can do is teach our children to embrace change, to be flexible, resilient and able to reinvent themselves. Teach them to question “facts” and think critically. Encourage their creativity. Teach them to be confident. Teach them to value themselves and learn from their mistakes. Come to think of it, this is what we all should be learning, no matter our age, because all of us face unprecedented change ahead.