Changes in globalisation, technology and work are rapidly transforming the world we live in. This ‘new’ world either holds the promise of a beautiful future that is more connected, efficient and equal, or a future of struggle and increased inequality, as unprepared communities are unable to keep the pace. The answer to avoiding the latter and harnessing the former lies in transforming the education system.
Bǿrge Brende states that, “Education is and will remain critical for promoting inclusive economic growth and providing a future of opportunity for all”. Fred Swaniker, explains that “We need to completely reimagine education. Instead of learning to memorize facts and figures, students need to “learn how to learn” and how to solve problems” . This points to the fact that traditional methods of learning, which are generally content-focused, are no longer sufficient to prepare the current and future generations to be productive members in society.
Rebecca Winthrop and Eileen McGivney argue that education needs to shift from focusing on content to developing a “breadth of skills” among learners. This means building academic competencies, such as literacy, numeracy and science, but also developing skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, communication, persistence, and creativity.
“Ultimately, young people today must be agile learners, able to adapt and learn new things quickly in a new fast-changing environment.” – Winthrop & McGivney
Swaniker supports the notions of agility and adaptability, arguing that education is no longer a once-off stop, but a life-long journey. We need to build a future generation of life-long learners.
So why is an early education imperative to this learning revolution? Simply put, a quality early education is essential to produce adaptable, life-long learners. Martin Hafen, Sociologist at Lucerne University, explains that, “In early childhood, external influences have a more profound effect than at any other time in a person’s life”. With 85% of the brain being developed by the age of five, a child’s early experiences play a crucial role in their cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development. Without the foundation of an early education, building a generation that is able to take hold of the opportunities presented by our rapidly transforming world will be a shaky and uncertain challenge. With the foundation of an early education, we will see a generation thriving in a world of unity and innovation.