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 Andreas Schleicher Director, Directorate for Education and Skills
Innovation and problem solving depend increasingly on the ability to synthesise disparate elements to create something different and unexpected. This involves curiosity, open-mindedness and making connections between ideas that previously seemed unrelated. It also requires knowledge across a broad range of fields. If we spend our entire lives in the silo of a single discipline, we will not gain the imaginative skills necessary to connect the dots and develop the next life-changing invention.
For schools, then, the challenge is to remain true to disciplines while encouraging interdisciplinary learning and building students’capacity to see problems through multiple lenses. Some countries have been trying to develop cross-curricular capabilities. Japan’s network of Kosen schools is a unique example.
Its president, Isao Taniguchi, showed me around the Tokyo campus last week, and it was one of my most inspiring school visi…
It has become clear that teaching skills requires answering “What should students learn in the 21st century?” on a deep and broad basis. Teachers need to have the time and flexibility to develop knowledge, skills, and character, while also considering the meta-layer/fourth dimension that includes learning how to learn, interdisciplinarity, and personalisation. Adapting to 21st century needs means revisiting each dimension and how they interact:
Knowledge - relevance required: Students’ lack of motivation, and often disengagement, reflects the inability of education systems to connect content to real-world experience. This is also critically important to economic and social needs, not only students…
By Pauline Musset Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills
Choosing anything is hard, especially when your decision might have long-term consequences for your life. A new OECD research paper looks at career decisions and career guidance. Based on 2015 PISA data, it shows that most 15-year-olds already have career plans: only around 15% of them have not decided what they want to do. But the data show that today’s teenagers aren’t very imaginative when it comes to their expected working life. Almost one in ten wants to be a medical doctor; one in three cited one of just ten jobs.
The ways in which young people think about jobs and careers, the study shows, are highly shaped by parental influence, social background and sense of identity. The paper highlights new analysis which shows, for example, that disadvantaged students are significantly less likely to want to work as professionals than their more advantaged peers – even after statistical controls are put in place for academic ab…