• Anna Sikora

The 4th industrial revolution in education - what it means and how STEAM responds?

Updated: Mar 23, 2018

Shifts in the workplace - shifts in education

STEAM innovations are remaking our industries,  economy, and society. Individuals need to feel their learning aligns with real-world problems and challenges. 

The New Ways of Working defined in the EU2020 strategy addresses the problems currently facing individuals in work environments. Specifically. it aims to improve quality of work, learning and productivity through social innovation.

Education is yet to benefit from these policies, however, social innovation in education has to be seen as a good starting point.

"...The largest beneficiaries of innovation tend to be the providers of intellectual and physical capital—the innovators, shareholders, and investors..."

Thus, if we were to take a purely economical viewpoint and focus on our civic roles in society we could say that the focus in education needs to be on creating creatives and nurturing them. If we were to place emphasis on the human experience, then we would be investigating what it is, that brings meaning to human existence. And here we have 'checkmate'. For if we read much of the research on this matter, we find that the essence of being able to lead a happy life is being able to live the creative life! Just how well are we doing this in schools and at universities, we need to be asking ourselves.

In seeking a rationale for developing the creative in us, we can look to Bloom's Revised Taxonomy. This is used by educationalists to classify levels of learning. I like to see the skill of knowing facts in the innermost circle with the ability to be able to create useful or meaningful outcomes, a culmination of all the other important skills. Note, the act of acquiring knowledge or remembering is perhaps a less amplified aspect of learning, nonetheless a central one. We can assume that without a good knowledge base, the ability 'to create' is compromised, therefore all aspects of cognition are important, but as educators we need our students to feel that they can and are able to create, hypothesize, design, construct, program etc. More on the affective and psychomotor domains in another post.

Productivity is for machines. Creativity, for humans.

Having the ability to program in order to generate an outcome, producing a painting to be admired, designing renewable energy machinery, a garment that fits or solving the travelling salesman mathematical problem engages all the cognitive processes found in the concentric circles. And it is this ability to create something oneself and to be able to create an outcome of beauty or relevance which is what brings meaning to our lives. It is not something a robot can do, unless of course it is programmed by a human to do so!.

As AI and robotics take-over some of the learning fundamentals, such as 'remembering' and 'analyzing', educational institutions need to be providing individuals with opportunities to build upon these layers. Let's develop in individuals that what is required in order to nurture creative thinking and doing, if we want to find ourselves employable as the future unfolds. The muscle is a brain and this brain needs to be exercised if we indeed believe productivity is for machines and creativity for humans!

Let's get creating!

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