Classrooms must have focus on the future

As we head towards the future of super-industrialism, we must ensure our education system prepares the young for this new world.

We have to discard the most criticised features of education today - regimentation, lack of individualism, emphasis on grading and marking, and the authoritarian role of the teacher.

A balance needs to be struck between standardisation and variety. Rather than bureaucracy, a flexible approach should be adopted.

It is no longer enough for students and teachers to merely understand the past or present; they must also increase their "cope-ability" quotient to handle the rate of change.

The starting point must be the future.

Rather than learn about what has already been done, children should be permitted a wider choice of short-term courses, all based on identifiable assumptions about future needs and provisions for dealing with the unknown - a "contingency curricula", perhaps, with a "forewarned, forearmed" mindset.

We must sensitise them to the possibilities and probabilities of tomorrow.

Perhaps science fiction should be required reading to ignite children's imagination.

Students could also write their own "future autobiographies" to spur their curiosity and drive to find out what will happen next. This is the cardinal task of education.

When millions share this passion, society will be better equipped to meet the impact of change.

Wong Horng Ginn

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2018, with the headline 'Classrooms must have focus on the future'. Print Edition | Subscribe