As Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) play an increasingly important role in the development of the omnipresent technology sector, the United States is proposing education reform to introduce these subjects to school children at a younger age.
In the United Kingdom, which recently restructured its national curriculum to include Computer Sciences, putting it on the same level as biology, physics, chemistry or mathematics, the BBC has taken the initiative of giving away a million hacking kits to 11- and 12-year olds designed by the British startup Technology Will Save Us, and financed by donations from companies like ARM, Farnell, Freescale, Microsoft, Nordic, Sciencescope and the BBC itself.
The growing use of 3D printers and hacklab-type workshops in schools are an ever-more tangible reality in countries as diverse as the United States or China. In terms of teaching itself, countries like Finland are leading the way in moving from teaching single subjects to taking a multi-disciplinary approach using technology, other, emerging economies like Peru are also following the lead.
What are the common themes within this change? Are these just coincidences? Are they perhaps the result of just a few visionaries? No, the reality is that these types of changes are the result of government strategies based on the understanding that education is essential. Measures of this type are medium-term investments, affecting entire generations, in the more competitive economies, in cutting-edge areas of the economy that can create value. Rather than relying on low wages or services, we’re talking here about a much more sustainable approach to planning an economy, based on developing skills that will be more and more important in the coming years.
The simple fact of the matter is that in the Google age, it is absurd for governments not to be rethinking their education policies. Changes to the curriculum are not made on the basis of short-term economic cycles. In less than a generation, we will see that those of us unable to understand the rudiments of programming or who are unable to understand and handle video narrative, among other skills that might be considered “new”, will be illiterate to all intents and purposes.
Faced with such a radical and important change as this, it will take policies at national level, within the education system, to meet the challenges of the future. Many other countries are creating new educational spaces to experiment with new approaches to learning. Education, at all levels, is now not only fast becoming outdated, but positively obsolete. With a few notable exceptions, Spain seems locked in education reforms that sadly have nothing to do with increasing access to technology.
Spain is sorely lacking leadership in this area, and we will pay for our failure to adapt for a number of generations. As a country, we need to address this issue quickly, but for the moment, there seems to chance of that happening.
(En español, aquí)