Happy New Year! We hope your 2018 will be filled with great and powerful ideas. One of the themes that must be advanced by innovative ideas is how we invest in our future innovators now in our school systems.

In past blogs, we have discussed the need for involvement by your teams with your local schools. We must go beyond that level of partnership and think about the more distant future. With artificial intelligence, Industry 4.0, self-driving trucks, drones and all the other rapid changes, our schools must quickly adapt. The systems used in our schools has been in place since before personal computers and must be updated. Most curriculum and methods still rely on memorization of facts and formulas when virtually all this is now at your fingertips or by asking “Alexa.” In my opinion, the near future will be different for all of us and especially for new graduates.

A recent article in InnovationManagement by Dr. Stephen M. Sweid makes the case for a radical change to school policy. His proposal seems sound and many details need to be resolved (especially the age of start). The core idea is to do real work as part of the school day similar to a co-operative intern.

A summary of the article makes these points;

  •  “I do not exaggerate when I say I believe the current school systems everywhere in the world, public and private, represent a great waste of money and time for humanity. The current school system might have been good up to some 50 years ago, but is definitely obsolete for our time. So much has changed in the last thirty years and we are still practicing an ancient education system.”
  • “The current system is mainly about keeping the young people busy outside the home for so many hours per day! Putting young people for some 10 – 12 years in the school system in buildings, keeping them in a passive mode of just receiving for a long period of their lives, just getting prepared for the future, i.e. for the big day when they can join society, is in my opinion a serious human rights violation.”
  • “The school is here, and real life is there. There is a gigantic gap between school and real life. It is all about ‘pretend’ at school. Nothing tangible is done. School is mainly about theory and pretend we are doing this and solving this problem, but never doing a real thing. When looking back, the school years are like a big empty hole in our memory and existence. Most successful people on the planet, including great scientists, were not that good at school.
  • The fourth industrial revolution has just arrived. The AI is already here and we are still sending children to school! There are now so many disruptive mega projects in most industries, Airbnb, Uber, Trivago, Tesla, solar, virtual reality, Nano science, DNA engineering, robotics, but little is done in the education domain. On a very small chip smaller than your finger tip you can have the biggest library ever: There is no need for memorizing anymore. You have all the information you need and all up to date on the internet. The whole knowledge is readily accessible.”
  • “Time is the most valuable element in life and should not be wasted. We want children to be part of reality and not just live a marginal life of ‘pretend’ in everything. Children should couple right away at a very early age to the real world and not just pretend. Let children engage and contribute to progress right away with the real thing. There should be no more preparing for the future but learning through doing, and living the future right away, to be active participants of the 4th revolution.”
  • “Pupils should learn through real working some 2 – 3 hours per day. The rest of the school day can be more theoretical but in a different way and should be related to what they are working on, together with other usual activities. It is about parallel contributing and learning. It is experiential learning pushed to extreme. This way all sciences and math will be dealt with in the practical life.”
  • “Learning and working should go hand in hand in our era, with parallel comprehension boosters. Industries and schools will be integrated gradually. ‘Industries’ imply all economic sectors and all sciences, including technology.”

We all know the challenges facing our industry, with higher volumes, challenging recruitment and more automation. To meet this challenge, each of our innovation teams should start a discussion with the local school district about the concept of short-term internships in this model. There is much to do, and we need to start the discussion.

Keep innovating!

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