In a recent edition of IB World magazine, Professor Fernando Reimer, Director of International Education Policy at Harvard University, described the changes that have taken place in education over the last 65 years as “the most significant transformation that humanity has experienced.”
Professor Reimer suggests that more people than ever have access to all levels of education, which has become increasingly global at a time when boundaries are blurring. Academic credentials are becoming easier to transfer, making education far more mobile. Governments are recognizing the essential connection between education and economic development. But alongside these opportunities are, undoubtedly, many challenges.
A fixation on standardized examinations in primary and secondary education has already forced some schools to teach to the tests by emphasizing memorization at the expense of problem solving. This has led, argues Reimer, to an approach that is “absolutely 20th-century” because it neglects crucial areas such as goal setting, self-directed learning, planning for the long term and reflecting on and learning from experiences. Students often also prioritise academics at the expense of personal factors, including relationships, relaxation, diet and exercise. Paradoxically, this can lead to a decline in academic performance, as general health and well-being are critical to academic achievement. For this reason, it is important for all students to maintain perspective and find a sense of balance between the pursuit of academic success and personal well-being.
It is impossible to predict exactly what education will look like in another 50 years. Perhaps the traditional classroom will be a thing of the past, replaced by online learning in the home. Countries that are lagging behind in the education stakes right now might overtake traditional leaders to be at the forefront of learning development. Only one thing is for sure – the world of international education won’t have stood still.
Chris McCorkell | Dean of Studies, Secondary