Learning from machines:
The machines we’ve built with our spectacular Science, Math and Engineering skills are now helping us learn. We’ve come a long way from boarding schools, correspondence courses, open universities to distance learning to virtual academies – to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses, online courses which are run on a global scale.
That is how the world of education has been embracing changes in society and technology by transforming itself through innovative ideas to deliver content to students of all ages.
Teaching in the age of machine learning:
Today, the cell phone has become an essential tool of learning. While this shows how far we’ve come in just two decades, it also poses a great danger for our system of education. Cutting edge technology and the digital knowledge gap that comes with it can come at a cost of learning for our children.
Technology has seen exponential growth over the past few decades and it continues to evolve each day. The education of today might not mean job guarantee for our children tomorrow. So, here are a few lessons we can teach our children to ensure they thrive in the face of constant change.
Energize thirst for learning:
Let’s think in terms of raising life long learners. Children are born with an intrinsic interest in learning. Fostering that leads to unlocking their potential and living a well rounded life.
The highest concentration of brain’s endorphine receptors are actually found in the learning centers of the brain. When we’re learning, the body releases these feel good chemicals called endorphines and a neurotransmitter called dopamine which is the mechanism of motivation. That is the reason why quenching the thirst for our knowledge is so intrinsically pleasurable and addictive.
Active learning through recall like quizzes and flashcards enable us to feel competent, relevant and autonomous. Dr. Brain Greene, a quantum physicist says that Science is journey from from chaos and confusion to clarity.
Give wisdom not knowledge:
With such a vast amount of knowledge at our finger tips, there’s no shortage of tools for academic learning in our children’s’ life. In such a society, where the young know more and figure out things faster, what can we as parents and educators give them?
We should give them the gift of timeless wisdom. As parents we should demonstrate authenticity and give them a perspective on potential challenges of their life ahead.
They’re growing up with an abundance in knowledge. So, they need lessons on how to interpret it and what the application of everything they learn is.
Love them for who they are and show them as much. At the same time, don’t forget to show them your belief in their potential. Impart self-efficacy – a quality of belief in one’s own ability to achieve goals. Children with low confidence in their abilities are not motivated to learn and challenge themselves to grow.
Allow them to mentor younger children with the experience and knowledge they have about their own young lives so far. Allowing students to teach younger children helps with boosting their own confidence and develop a strong sense of purpose through contribution.
Impart ethics into information:
Challenge children to justify their decisions based on ethical reasoning. Allow them to think critically in terms of exploring alternatives and considering consequences. Can they recognize unethical and illegal behaviors?
Encourage them to think about the approach to a solution, more than the solutions themselves. Ask them to explain the ethics of using all the information they’re consuming.
Describe the importance of professional ethics and legal responsibilities. Help them interpret policies and procedures. One good fun way to start is to ask them to read the policy on social media use before accepting it. Ask them if they understand what the words corporate greed, school cheating scandals, racial divisiveness and political corruption mean?
In addition to becoming a great human being, encourage children to master their sleep and attention to become a leader in the area of their passion and interest. By seeing value in themselves and others and learning how to work well under pressure, they can become masters of their craft.
Children can be intentionally taught employability skills like, establishing and tackling hard decisions, goal setting and task accomplishment through perseverance.
We all have a choice to sleepwalk through life or to take an active role in it. Negotiating, compromising and still standing up for what they believe in even if its not the popular thing to do are hallmarks of an entrepreneur. We all have a choice to become one.
Employ lesser rigor and regimen:
And engage in more play. We are moving away from rote learning over the past few years. Instead, we’re engaging in more active listening and recall of concepts and ideas.
Here’s where an important aspect of play comes in. In our childhood we learnt everything through unregimented self exploration and sheer force of willpower – like walking and talking. As children we found joy in the freedom of expression and creativity that unstructured play offers. As we begin to grow, we stop playing to our strengths and start learning through text books.
Nurture enduring relationships:
Empathy is the single most factor that determines what kind of a contributing human, leader and adults we’ll be. What is Empathy? Empathy is how we treat absolute strangers. It is our ability to put ourselves in the situations that others are going through.
More than ever before, social and emotional learning – taking perspective, self awareness, appreciating similarities and differences in others – in addition to academic learning is more relevant now in the digital age where distractions and addictions are just a click, swipe and a hashtag away.
We’ve to ask our children how they would treat other people, why we have rules and what being respectful entails. We’ve to teach them the importance of respecting those that love them unconditionally. Fostering meaningful conversations and dialogue to see the other point of view is critical.
Foster problem solving:
The world will always keep changing and we will always have problems. That’s the only constant in our lives. Let’s teach our children how to design solutions to problems. We must teach them how to face obstacles and find the self motivation to keep going.
We must expose them to adversity and not hide them from it. How long can we keep safeguarding them from real life anyway? Life is not perfect all the time and the sooner they know it, the better they’re ready for it.
When faced with problems, giving them a perspective of the abudance they still have left is imperative. While arriving at a solution, the depth of their engagement and the journey are also part of the final solution.
Fact: A little over 25% of Americans have a 4 year or more degree.
Our children are growing up in a world very different from ours. The future will require for them to constantly adopt to unpredictable changes if they want to stay in the race. We cannot predict the future for them, but we can give them an education and tools that becomes a roadmap of guidance for them.
Knowledge is becoming cheaper and less important. In the near future, nobody will hire us because of what we know. We will be hired for our abilities to think and create with what we know.
Teaching children to respect themselves, their time and energy is important. Teaching them how the quality of their attention, sleep and imagination impacts their life is crucial. From personal accountability comes empowerment. A sense of empowerment gives children what they want – a life filled with happiness and contentment.