If anybody could be called the “Grand Poobah” of global education, it’s Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD).
In February, I wrote an open letter to Andreas with an existential concern that had been troubling me and an invitation to discuss it on the Future Learning Design podcast.
Unlike many, I am lucky that my children have been in school physically quite a lot throughout the pandemic. However, on a daily basis, I watch as they are meticulously and lovingly prepared by committed teachers for a world that no longer exists.
As Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven summed it up in 2016: “[T]he only thing that can help people accept that their job may disappear is the confidence that they have the knowledge and skills to find or create a new one.”
Children growing up now will be compelled to create their own ‘value’ by transforming any needs that they observe, with the help of their peers and networks, into viable opportunities for impact and income. This is what creating prosperity in a networked economy and society will look like — it already does!
A few years ago, I too was thrust into this entrepreneurial world full of complex collaboration — make or break! And there was little or nothing that I had learned in my formal education up to the Master’s level that helped me with this.
At the same time, as the global mental health statistics demonstrate, there is also a dark side to influential networks. We need to do better at preparing our young people with the resilience for navigating this.
So the question I put to Andreas was:
How does a relentlessly hierarchical education system support our children to experience, understand, and intentionally harness the power of networks for good and find their confident place in them, without becoming overwhelmed and submerged by them?
Happily, this question piqued his interest and that of the team at the OECD. And here’s an excerpt from our conversation:
The future society is the network society. Now I think we build lateral rather than vertical kind of relationships. I think the future is not ‘command and control’ but about collaboration and I actually believe that has a lot to do with how…