OECD Directorate for Education and Skills Manuela Fitzpatrick MA in International Relations at Science Po, Paris.
"My son was accepted into film-making camp, and he's only seven years old! I'm so proud. The only problem is that I'm not sure how I will get him there since the twins have their dance class and then empathy workshop on the same afternoon".
On the phone with my friend, I make polite noises but inside I am thinking: what ever happened to kids having time to run around and just have fun?
What is the nature of modern childhood? Released today, the book Trends Shaping Education 2016 looks at major social, demographic, economic and technological trends affecting the future of education. One important focus: child well-being.
21st century children are in many ways safer and better protected that children from previous generations. Advances in medicine and stricter safety regulations – such as better bicycle helmets and the increased use of seat belts in cars – have led to a steady decrease in child mortality rates across OECD countries. Older, better educated parents are increasingly advocating for their children and playing an active role in their education. New technologies help parents to monitor their children’s location and well-being constantly, and in case of a problem help is just a phone call – or WhatsApp message – away.
However, at the same time as those new technologies help parents stay connected to their children, they also create new risks (for example, cyber-bullying) that can follow them from the school yard into their homes. In fact, there are signs that the modern world has created new stresses for our children that go beyond technology.
Children in the 21st century are more likely to be only children, with fewer opportunities to interact with siblings. Children and adolescents are increasingly pushed to do more by “helicopter parents”, overprotective parents who hover over their children to protect them from potential harm. Children are reporting higher levels of stress and less sleep. Free time to play is decreasing, and there are worries about the reduction of old-fashioned activities (e.g., running around outside) in favour of time spent in front of a computer screen. In addition, (and perhaps not unrelatedly), child obesity is increasing across the OECD, bringing with it a host of potential physical, social and psychological challenges.
How does the transformed nature of childhood in the 21st century affect education? How can teachers and schools work together with parents and communities to protect and guide children while still allowing them to be children, and learn by making mistakes? Schools have a responsibility to be safe places for learning, and teachers are on the front line of monitoring and ensuring their students’ well-being. Yet many countries are struggling to keep up with the changes in modern childhood and new expectations and responsibilities that have emerged.
These are tough issues for education. And child well-being is just one of the topics Trends Shaping Education 2016 covers. The same chapter also provides a snapshot of a number of other trends affecting children and families that education systems must prepare for, including:
• The rise of non-traditional families: The legalisation of same-sex marriage, for example, began in the Netherlands in 2001 and has steadily spread to almost half of the OECD countries since then. Classrooms are now increasingly likely to include students from non-traditional families – a trend that may pose challenges for some schools in ensuring that students and their families feel accepted.
• Youth poverty: The risk of income poverty has shifted over the last four decades from the elderly to the young. In the mid-1980s, young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 were only 20% more likely than the entire population to be in poverty. By 2013, young adults were 60% more likely than the entire population to be in poverty. Is education doing enough to help those most in need?
• Balancing work and family: The vast majority of OECD countries have maternal leave laws, and as of 2010, 20 OECD countries also implemented parental leave legislation (the possibility of leave for both father and mother). In a world where both parents are likely to work, what is the role of early childhood education and care in ensuring child well-being?
Want to know more? Then pick up a copy of today's new book: the 2016 edition of Trends Shaping Education. In addition to families, other chapters examine global trends such as increasing migration and climate change, national trends on government spending in health and pensions, the key role of cities in our societies as well as technological trends. And if you really feel like testing your knowledge, try the quiz!
by Dirk Van Damme Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education and Skills
The label “21st -century skills” is being increasingly used, and sometimes misused, to indicate that the rapidly changing economic, social and cultural environment of the current century demands a revision of what we think are crucial subjects for the next generations to learn. Examples include creativity, innovation, critical thinking, curiosity, collaboration, cross-cultural understanding or global competence. Some people wonder whether these skills are truly new, or whether education has always been about fostering these capabilities. But stakeholders – not least employers and the business sector – continue to complain that they don’t find candidates leaving the education systems who have the skills they think matter for the jobs they have to offer. And they claim that this is the case because current education systems do not sufficiently prioritise the development of such…
by Andreas Schleicher Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills
Schools nowadays are required to learn faster than ever before in order to deal effectively with the growing pressures of a rapidly changing environment. Many schools however, look much the same today as they did a generation ago, and too many teachers are not developing the pedagogies and practices required to meet the diverse needs of 21st-century learners.
In response, a growing body of scholars, educators and policy makers around the world is making the case that schools should be re-conceptualised as “learning organisations” that can react more quickly to changing external environments, embrace innovations in internal organisation, and ultimately improve student outcomes. Despite strong support for and the intuitive appeal of the school as a learning organisation, relatively little progress has been made in advancing the concept, either in research or practice. This lack of progress partly stems from a lack …
Elisabeth Villoutreix Communications Officer, Directorate for Education
The link between education and social benefits has long been recognised, as far back as Ancient Greece when Aristotle and Plato pointed out that education is central to the well-being of society. More recently, in the past few decades, research has supported this conventional wisdom, revealing that education not only enables individuals to perform better in the labour market, but also helps to improve their overall health, promote active citizenship and contain violence.
So how can education predict social outcomes such as life expectancy, civic engagement and general life satisfaction?
The latest issue of Education Indicators in Focus seeks to answer this question by comparing the social benefits of education in selected OECD countries.
Data show that life expectancy is strongly associated with education. On average, among 15 OECD countries with available data, a 30-year-old tertiary-educated man can expect to liv…