Future jobs will look very different to what they do now. There is expected to be a reduction in the needs for workers to complete routine, manual tasks which will be offset by an increase in the time workers need to spend focusing on people, solving strategic problems and thinking creatively. There will be a lot less management and organisation coordination, and self-employment or portfolio working will become the norm.
By 2030, it is estimated that workers will spend:
30% more time learning on the job
100% more time solving problems
41% more time on critical thinking and judgement
77% more time using science and maths
17% more time using verbal, communication, and interpersonal skills
Teaching and learning will need to change dramatically to respond to this changing environment. The types of teaching and learning that respond to the needs of our future workforce will need to be highly personalised and highly collaborative. It will need to respond to the needs of the learner, not the convenience of the learning institution. It must recognise that learning occurs in a multitude of contexts outside of the school walls and, most importantly, it will need to make the learner a partner in the learning process.
The current focus on learning areas will need to give way to a greater emphasis on competencies such as: participating and contributing, thinking, relating to others, using language, symbols and text, and managing self.
So what’s going to be needed for support our students, whānau and communities to navigate this changing system?
Self management will become a critical skill as students begin to manage their own learning. Whānau and community planning and goal setting will become more important and all whānau will need access to technology as a teaching and learning tool. Guidance and support will need to be strengthened.
Over the next few months we're going to use our blog to look at our CEC initiatives in each of our communities to understand what steps they are taking to support students, whānau and communities to adapt and succeed to this changing environment. Check back to read our case studies and examples of innovative and disruptive community-driven initiatives that connect our communities in Aotearoa with education and learning for the 21st century.
The J R McKenzie Trust CEC team were pleased to have the opportunity to attend and facilitate the inaugural Philanthropy New Zealand Network Education Funders Network which took place in Auckland on April 11.
The day provided a great opportunity for conversations around what the future of education could look like in Aotearoa New Zealand. There was a clear willingness from all in the room to identify common interests that may lead to sharing knowledge and resources, which may even lead to collaboration on future projects.
We were delighted to hear from Rob McIntosh on the subject “Future Directions in New Zealand Schooling: The Case for Transformation.” Rob looked at the challenge for our current education system in how best to equip young people to develop the capabilities that allow them to thrive in a transforming world. He argued that the dominant model of teaching and learning which primarily involves the transmission of knowledge is no longer enough to meet either the needs of learners, or of our changing world.
Instead, learning should:
Be highly personalised and highly collaborative.
Respond to the needs of the learner.
Recognise that learning doesn’t just occur at school, it also occurs outside of school in a range of contexts.
Integrate knowledge and competency development to tackle authentic real-world problems that are meaningful to the learner.
Involve project-based learning which focusses on the production of a tangible output.
Recognise the critical role of technology.
How well is this done in our schools at the moment? Perhaps the easiest way to find out is ask a 15 to 17-year-old to tick off the items on that list that currently occur at their school (and if they tick off even one of these please leave a comment as we would love to hear about it!).
There are pockets of innovative learning in New Zealand where some of these things do occur. But the wholesale change that is needed to equip our children and young people for the new work order and the future challenges we face is not happening widely or fast enough. Click here to download a copy of Rob’s presentation.
The CEC project is led by a governing committee, who oversee funding and strategic decisions. Recently, the committee has moved from managing risk, to engaging risk. They are not afraid of engaging with ideas and projects that are new, untested and unproven. But their decisions are not made in an information vacuum.
The more time we spend working with CEC, the more we learn, which leads to new ideas about what might work to make change. This evidence is shared with the committee and our groups, to help support and plan for long term activity to support educational success.
In the interests of supporting other communities groups to disrupt disadvantage by strengthening the connections between communities and education, we have compiled some evidence around different ways of working, what is involved, the pros and cons, and likelihood of achieving CEC goals with these activities:
Creating a School Curriculum
Community participation in schools
Fostering social connections for Pasifika
Community revitalisation/community building/community development
Information and communication technology hubs
Computers and devices in homes
A basic table of the evidence we have collected so far is presented below, or you can download a copy of our evidence document (with sources and additional resources) here.
Time and Resource Requirements
Strengths of the approach (evidence)
Challenges of the approach (evidence)
Desired impact for CEC
Creating a school curriculum
Time intensive in development phase (less intensive once complete but on-going improvement and evaluation needed). Need skilled and knowledgeable community members.
Community supports education and learnings reinforced in community settings (Uemura, 1999).
Identifying people within the school system willing to support this approach. Time and resourcing for community knowledge holders to participate.
High, if learning supported in community settings also.
Time intensive Short-term
Useful to build momentum behind an initiative in the initial stages.
Little evidence of effectiveness.
Low, without a broader strategy
Long-term. Intensity ebbs and flows with activity
Increases the visibility of projects within communities, making learning spaces outside traditional school settings more inclusive
Complex and long-term strategy
Promising but little education- specific evidence
Community participation in schools
Long-term. Intensity ebbs and flows with activity.
Schools, families, and communities partnerships can improve school programs and school climate; provide family services and support; increase parents’ skills and leadership; connect families with others in the school and in the community; help teachers with their work.
Resistance amongst teachers, families and communities not willing to get involved, and power imbalances.
Medium but school focused rather than community focussed.
Whānau Ora –Māori
Long-term. Intensity ebbs and flows with activity. Connections to whānau, marae, hapu and iwi. Resources to support local groups.
Social networks provide important opportunities for children’s learning –developing a sense of cultural identity and belonging, feelings of wellbeing.
Fostering social connections for Pasifika
Long-term. Intensity ebbs and flows with activity. Connections to Pasifika community groups and leaders. Resources to support local groups.
When communities work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more.
Community revitalisation/ community building/ community development
Need to build coalitions and engage skilled people.
Children need stable lives to learn, schools need to understand children’s living environments.
Complex problems to address e.g. housing; power imbalances between school, families and community; low SES areas often lack resources.
Information and communication technology hubs
High investment in set up Ongoing resourcing to run and maintain the hub (e.g. coordinators salary)
Highly attractive resource especially in low SES communities Fosters a community of learners
Public access facilities are important but their value can be limited to those willing or able to use them and this model should not be an exclusive solution.
Computers and devices in homes
Medium if in partnership with IT companies Coordination, skilled trainers
Access to ICTs in the home appears to provide significant benefits and these benefits increase for children when usage is successfully and overtly linked to school curriculum.
Project sustainability and scalability can be at risk where the only funding options are project based and temporal.
There is this inspirational quote that says “be like a duck. Calm on the surface but paddling like the dickens underneath”. I don’t know who first said this – but clearly they didn’t spend much time paddling. It’s tiring. And boring. And it doesn’t matter how calm you look if you’re just paddling in circles.
Projects that focus too tightly on their activities are duck projects. There is a lot of busy paddling happening, but the outcomes and the vision often get forgotten about in the busyness of doing. Very little learning or reflection happens; these too are lost in the busyness of having to keep yourself above water.
It’s very easy to fall into duck mode when you’re trying to create innovative social change. A far more effective model is the one used by the surfing Gentoo penguins. These surfing birds keep their eye on the horizon so they can see the swell and anticipate the wave set. They look to the shore to know how far they can ride the wave before hitting the sand or the reef below. And then when a wave comes that looks promising, then and only then, do they paddle like heck.
These penguins use what we like to call a tight-loose-tight approach. A ‘tight loose tight’ project is one where there is a tight focus on the project vision, a loose focus on the way the goals might be achieved (the activities), and a tight focus on outcomes. This approach is visualised below:
Surfing - more fun than paddling
This approach uses a learning culture in which insights and feedback are discussed and there is an openness to adjusting the prototype, trying new ways of working and failing fast. Innovation is held lightly and these important questions are asked constantly:
Check: In what ways have the activities we have undertaken helped us towards achieving our vision? What differences have we made? And for whom? How do we know?
Reflect: What’s working? What looks promising? What’s not working?
Adapt: To achieve our outcomes, what do we need to do more of? Less of? Differently?
Activities that aren’t working towards the vision or to support intended outcomes are therefore changed, adapted or let go entirely as there is no point spending time and energy on paddling just for the sake of paddling. Take a bit of time to think about your social innovation project and activities. Are you paddling crazily like a duck, or surfing like a penguin? If you find yourself quacking under the pressure, it might be time to think about doing things a bit differently.
CEC is sometimes a bit tricky to describe. It has a name (Connecting Education and Communities), so that’s helpful. It has several agreed aims, principles and values. That's helpful too. But if we are ever actually asked the question “so what does CEC actually look like,” we hesitate.
Because it looks so different in each community. And as each community is developing and changing their project all the time, it makes it hard to pin down a description of what’s happening that lasts for longer than a couple of months.
As a project team, we’ve learned to be comfortable with this diverse and ever-changing reality. But we also have a committee that we report to, who need good information to help make decisions. We have a theory of change and an evaluation framework, which needs good information to help us understand what difference we are making. We have other stakeholders, including our groups, who like to know what’s going on.
The thing is - we don't want to overburden our groups with reporting. We fund them to create connections, to innovate, to collaborate, to reflect, to make a difference and understand what differences they are making, and for whom. We'd really rather they didn't spend their time writing reports for us on how they are doing this. However we also need to make sure that our groups are on track and that things are going OK for them.
So we started looking for a solution. We needed to find a way for our groups to 'report', without reporting. We wanted it to be visual, to allow creativity and allow multiple people to view, and use. We needed different levels of access permission so that our groups could confidently share what's working, as well as what isn't. It also needed to be super easy to use. Most importantly it needed to be free.
After some time spent looking, and testing, we settled on Trello.
One of our Trello boards
Trello is a collaboration tool that gives us a visual overview of what’s happening across all our projects. Each of our funded projects has a series of boards that they can update regularly. These boards not only enable us, and our committee, to see what’s happening, they also offer each group a way to tell their stories of change and track their projects over time.
Purists use Trello to project manage, but we find it equally useful as as an evaluation and reflection tool. We don’t have lists of things to do. Instead, we use it to share what we’re learning, to celebrate our successes, and show others what we are up to.
Most importantly, it's allowed us to track and visualise multiple projects. If you are looking for a tracking, reflection and evaluation tool for multiple projects then we would recommend considering Trello as an option.
Disruptive social innovation describes a way of tackling social problems that requires engagement with communities to design a project or service that actually addresses their needs and interests. It disrupts more traditional ways of doing projects (i.e. planned for a couple of years, top-down and expensive and by the time things get going the problem has often changed) and the process is visionary, adaptive and highly collaborative.
The Connecting Education and Communities (CEC) project aims to disrupt disadvantage by strengthening the connections between communities and education. The project works with innovative, locally-led initiatives that drive the impact of CEC in each community through vision, adaptation, and a commitment to collaboration.
There is, however, more to disruption than just saying you are disruptive. We encourage each of our groups to intentionally apply some disruptive principles to their community development work, namely:
Engage with people at different parts of the project who have different ideas Getting a team of specialists together or relying on the same old faces is unlikely to produce innovation, simply because they are likely to stick to the approaches they already know and are familiar with. We encourage the CEC groups to use co-design to harness the knowledge and creativity of 'everyday people' in their communities to generate solutions.
Aim for a flat, rather than heirarchical structure Our CEC groups are necessarily flat structured - mostly because they don't have the resources to employ lots of people and establish a giant heirarchy. As Mia Bunge points out, this is to their advantage, as having strong leaders and an entrenched heirarchy can be incredibly narrowing for any innovation culture.
Have a good grasp of what it is you are trying to change Before joining CEC, our groups need to show they understand what effective community engagement looks like (or have experience in engaging whanau and communities) and seek out data or evidence that helps them understand the situation/s they are dealing with.
Start thinking at a systems level Our CEC groups form an (important) part of a bigger picture in their community. They are not one-off, isolated projects but instead interact and collaborate with other partners, projects and communities who are also tackling children's disadvantage. Click here for a fun 3 min youtube clip on the importance of systems thinking.
Have a "to do" philosophy. Get ideas out of heads and into a testing, prototyping and implementing cycle. We encourage our groups to use a design thinking process of test/iterate/ideate/test/iterate/ideate (and repeat!).
Disruption sounds a bit hairy - but once you get into the nuts and bolts it really isn't that tricky. And we promise that none of our change agents are harmed in the process!
Nadine Metzger provides evaluation support for the CEC project.