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Lifelong Learning: From Education to the Future of Work and Beyond
Lifelong Learning: From Education to the Future of Work and Beyond

Lifelong Learning: From Education to the Future of Work and Beyond

Education. We hear the word constantly, but why is it so incredibly important and valuable?

Encyclopedia Britannica defines education as the “discipline that is concerned with methods of teaching and learning in schools or school-like environments as opposed to various non-formal and informal means of socialization.” In a traditional sense, this is true. It also cites it “as the transmission of the values and accumulated knowledge of a society.” It’s that last one that can make the most impact.

I’ve often shared that the future of work (and life) is reliant on the ongoing present (and presence) of education … in all formats and environments, as well as students of all ages throughout life. While the global COVID-19 pandemic was horrible, there were a few silver linings to consider. We learned that one-size-does-not-fit-all for learning, working and living. Some progress was made in connecting this future of work (whether in offices, remote or hybrid) to outcomes rather than hours and butts in seats. There are clearly connections to school and education.

Let’s not diminish the importance of social interaction that goes beyond virtual “classrooms.” However, for learning beyond relationships and social graces, we began to notice that it was more than just scoring high on a momentary test. The real focus is learning how to learn and using the ability to understand. We need to ignite curiosity and discovery, since that’s how we improve and progress in meaningful ways vs simply being good at choosing multiple choice options. Equal assessment parameters still matter for assessing systemic elements (even though the individual can’t be forgotten). In many ways, I see the subjective essay evaluation as a way for the written or spoken details to reveal what filling in a set of dots on a Scantron with a #2 pencil cannot (although this is subjective and more time-consuming).

Fundamentally, children should be taught how to be lifetime learners, whether that encompasses formal education, on-the-job training, self-teaching or re-skilling/up-skilling as digital transformation continues to touch all industry segments and facets of life.

“We are going to have to start to prepare learners for work that just doesn’t exist yet,” said Michelle Weise, the chief innovation officer at the Strada Institute for the Future of Work. This is not innovation alone. Tomorrow’s workers and leaders also require soft skills, problem solving, empathy and beyond.

Once again, this future must start today.

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