Reading, Writing, Memorisation will never be replaced by technology. Money will change the need to read, write and memorise!
Education today, is outmoded primarily because it emanates out of the industrial revolution where mass production in huge factories changed the fabric of society into what we have today. Our societies today are highly polarised on economic standing and further divided on who owns the means of production. The schools today still operate to prepare children for mainstream universities and when you do the numbers it gives a scary picture. South African, for example, had more than 1 million Grade 12s who wrote the 2020 NSC exam and all the universities can only accommodate less than 100 000! The FET colleges too and private universities can take another 20 000! What happens to the rest? They will be part of the unemployed and unskilled stats of South Africa. So what can I say about the children in Kenya? Are they illiterate when they, with minimum infrastructure and superstructure can read, write and preserve age old learning techniques? Are they going to face the same fate of their counterparts in South Africa? The answer is yes! We are caught up in the prejudice of a jaundiced education system that appreciate everything that moves closer to the worship of fast capitalism. Like farming, education today, has pupils on a huge plantation ready for harvesting where the top are exported to finer places while the rest are either recycled or left to rot.
Modern mass production including huge scale farming use drone technology for a multitude of reasons ranging from security and used by an agronomist to assist in checking the quality of soil. Drones follow the instruction of the pilot and it cannot do other than what it is designed to do through the agents of Augmented Reality, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. The data received via the drones will allow the farmer and corporates to work on yields, trends and so many other aspects that would otherwise be mere conjecture. Similarly, all the data captured in schools on test scores and the likes, primes the industrial mind to plan how better to make products to be consumed by the masses who are ‘educated.’
Education too, following on the trend of the industrial revolution is like a huge organised factory with a collosal conveyer belt for producing children with a drone like mentality. They are put together like parts of car as ‘products’ to service the needs of fast capitalism and high consumerism. The reality: fewer thinkers and standardised tests and examinations become the data to grade them and the institutions. Bad scores means bad schools. COVID-19 came and instantly the face of teaching changed as well as the whole criterion set for grading teaching and learning. Principals were in uncharted waters to learn how to grade and assess each pupil differently.
Chalk and Talk for centuries. COVID-19 Changed it…
As a Principal of a school I am convinced by what I see that teaching is becoming outmoded because, the curriculum is serving the needs of fast capitalism where just a few, in fact eight, 8, people are the movers of fast capitalism in exponential ways. One of them is Elon Musk whose income from March 2020 to February 2021 shot up exponentially. He was worth about 24 Billion $ in March 2020 but today he is worth about 230 Billion $ whilst the disparity between rich and poor is now wide as east from west. A bag of rice is the same price for him as for you and I but, the affordability is not. The point made here is that with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Robotics changing the face of life from bottom up in all sectors is clear that our education system is not addressing the needs.
It is still designed to meet the demands of the industrial revolution which came in after 1760. Therefore, the average child in school will be unemployable because of lack of skills despite having outstanding academic results. Furthermore with insufficient street-wise skills to make it outside the walls and fences of schools makes them more vulnerable for failure. Traditional careers are being replaced by robotics, AI and AR. The tenth unmanned mission to Mars has been successful and the last one is the most successful because of new advanced design features in AI, AR and robotics. Ten successful attempts makes the insuperable conquerable and the mission to put man on Mars a potential reality despite the huge odds against it. However, it is going to be more work and greater scientific experimentation and exploration to make the hundreds of pilot projects a new dimension of discovery to put man on Mars. This makes me more confident to say that today’s schooling system is not meeting the demands of the current situation of social-technological-economical advancement we are living through. NASA is showing us a different reality.
NASA successfully landed its new robotic rover on Mars Thursday, 18 February 2021, a mission to directly study if there was ever life on the planet. It has made such an impact on AI, AR and robotics that the mission of man Mars is looking more achievable. “Perseverance” is going to collect samples from Mars and its design turns Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen making experimentation of living on Mars real. While this has happened I am drawn back to Kenya, watching my colleague, Qari Ziyaad Patel informing us on how the Holy Quran is still taught, written and memorised without any form of technology we know and; I wonder in amazement if those children will ever believe the story of “Perseverance” just as how you and I cannot believe that education is still in that mode of transmission in Kenya.
Kenya is facing its own plight of poverty and the disparity of wealth distribution. The Kenyan vision for 2030 is exhilarating to say the least and if the trend follows on its fulfilment, Kenya would become a global player given its natural resources, wildlife and a population that is not overwhelming its landmass. However, its the disparity between ethnic groups that worries me because, it illustrates the ill effects of capitalism. The trickle-down effect will be such that these already poverty stricken people will be further disenfranchised and they would have no chance to witness the world as we see it today. For them it will be a fairytale. The education system in Kenya too is struggling to be effective and the literacy rate among adults is a cause of concern but, the amazing ability of the Kenyan children as shown in the video to read, write and memorise so remarkably well is one very positive sign.
EDUCATION IS KEY.
The sign of our current education system is that we memorise less and pay scant attention to rules of grammar and pronunciation but, the children of Kenya in their reading, writing and memorisation of the classical text of the Holy Quran pay great attention. The deliberate focus on detail of language construction is key to develop neuro-lingusitic-programing. This is what the current Education system has taken out and therefore, we have become drones and robots in society today. Whilst the teaching and learning in the vernacular school appears outmoded it has all the trappings to teach children skills that will and can make them successful, if given the opportunity. I believe, children can be trained and retrained within systems to further an agenda. Think very briefly on how the unfortunate reality of child soldiers. They have been effective under the yoke their ignominious masters’ plans. Therefore, if these children are taught a skill that will fit into the 2030 Kenyan Vision they would rise above their poverty stricken condition. Because they have a proficiency in language, in this case Arabic, they would learn another language with greater ease thereby making them potential tour guides as a simple example to boost customer service in that multi-million dollar industry. Their simple living allows them to be debt free because, they don’t see the need for gadgets, useless toys and the likes to be content in their life. However, if touched with the prodigious onslaught of capitalism in all its forms, they will be impelled into consumerism and that will be their deathbed. Money then, will change the reasons to read, write and memorise.
Memorisation is not strong in the curriculum today. The hidden curriculum behind teaching memorisation is one of concentration and focus on the task at hand. In our classrooms today, concentration and focus is diminished because, everything is stored on a device and the mind is not trained to refine deeper metacognitive processes because, the device does all the storage. The human touch in the Kenyan scenario is diagrammatically opposed to the human touch in our schools in that we have a huge lack of it that is authentic and genuine whilst, in the Kenyan situation it is high and very authentic. The situation in other sectors of Kenya is a sad one and; perhaps it is worse than the children in the video. It is the effects of Capitalism trapped within a ruthless agenda where the poor must be kept poor. The trickle-down effect will never change the conditions of the poor like that of the Masai girl learning in a school where resources are scant. Again, will this girl ever believe the reality of “Perseverance” landing on Mars and its live broadcast to the world? I don’t think so. It will appear like a fairytale.
Masai girl doing Maths in Kenya.
Picture credit: Christopher Michel – https://www.flickr.com/photos/cmichel67/9758659332/
The fairytale of Jack and the Beanstalk captivated people for years and with new features in cinematography, the animations have become so lifelike that it can be confused for real people and real contexts. This is how advanced technology has turned the corner with making movies and its getting better by the day, but our teaching despite all the technological advancement, delivery of curriculum has not become dynamic. In most cases, the SMARTBOARD for example has become a glorified chalkboard and the online lessons has turned into a lecture mode with a great reliance on YOUTUBE video content splicing the lessons. This is not innovation. There has to be change of focus in how do things with new things too. New concepts must be put into practice and challenged too.
Dr. Ruben Puentedura introduced the concept of the SAMR MODEL.
At the moment in most schools we are substituting the real time teaching with an online platform and there is little or no functional change. In the case of the children in Kenya the SAMR model is not functional at all because there has been no change in the main. If we were to implement the SAMR model to combat the ill effects of 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) we need to implement the SAMR model differently over and above the introduction of AI, AR, Coding and Robotics. The curriculum needs an overhaul.
The overhaul is not drastic but will eventually change the manner of teaching and the delivery of curriculum. I found the ideas of Mirza Yawar Baig very instructive, reliable, correct and very achievable. He says that schools should create people of understanding, schools must teach Citizenship and teach Entrepreneurship. Futthermore, he expounds the concept of innovation and entrepreneurship that has to be substituted into the teaching across the curriculum where venture capital must be made available for students to start micro business and the school should set up a bank based on Islamic principles because it rules out interest. This idea that I have extrapolated on is very achievable with the right teacher. These two should have the oversight of teachers but, must be worked out in such a way that pupils experience the world of business, trade, profit and loss because these are the global game changes. In doing this, the curriculum should be augmented with teaching one more language that would best suit the interests of business, collaboration and skills exchange. Give it thought! NASA and the ISS (International Space Station) have people from different countries working together and speaking their own languages too but, unite on the concept of science.
Gravity will be gravity so that commonality as a case in point synchronises thinking. Modification is the development of the above with a skills set that pupils must learn. These skills must range from plumbing to fire-fighting because it will make the child more robust as a person to navigate the worlds’ challenges – think of how COVID-19 LOCKDOWN got you to learn new skills. Once these set in as part of the school day and year, the school will refine itself where the day will be extended by demand and not choice. The demand will make the school different and thus creating a brand and brand creates loyalty. Consider how more employable the pupil will be after finishing school compared to the current situation.
Over 11 million people in South Africa are unemployed and this number will grow with the number of school leavers after this year’s NSC exam. The pupils as a case in point are unskilled, unwise on entrepreneurship and clueless of work and its demands because of they have been bred into the culture of entitlement therefore, rendering them useless for employment. This is the reality that bites when hunger becomes so painful that crying is an effort too. We have to learn how to challenge the disparity of wealth distribution because, the human race will face culling like elephants to reduce population numbers. Let us take the example of the Kenyan children as an example of what is still working and see if it can be improved on using the SAMR model.
Qari Ziyaad Patel has done and is doing fantastic work under the banner of the Al-Imdaad Foundation and have applied, in my opinion, principles of the SAMR Model to their charitable work and now, I believe Al-Imdaad Foundation can apply the model to their education outreach programmes as well. This is said because governments are failing in countries like Kenya and South Africa to meet the outputs of the twenty first century demands overlaid by the COVID-19 pandemic. Faith is important and very necessary but, a hungry man will give up faith for a few coins and embrace a new faith. When a hungry man is made to understand that he will work and earn his daily bread, he will look after what is giving him that chance. The chance is once and after that, charity becomes toxic, religion becomes the opium of the people and capitalism becomes their overwhelming nightmare. If we don’t change the condition of people through active engagement and role modelling behaviour we will be doing the same thing over and over again with no effective progression. Progress is not only embarking on technological greatness, it is more than that. It is advancing society such that the disparities between rich and poor are narrowed and a bigger and broader middle class who amongst other things are change agents because of their entrepreneurial ingenuity. It is time that education should leverage employment and address the skills shortage and not create unemployable drone like students and leave students unskilled with poor resolve.
Action Steps that we should plan to Implement in schools…
Putting what I want to implement out there, I hope it will create momentum for me as well to make a start. I hope you will take these ideas as action points in your school too. Start with one at least because it will be start of great journey. These ideas are that of Mirza Yawar Baig. I have put it my own words as follows:
- Teach citizenship i.e. teach children to be part of global issues e.g. creating awareness of climate change.
- Establish serious entrepreneurship in the school.
- Career paths must move greatly into law, nature conservation, farming, astronomy, Artificial Intelligence, Coding, Robotics and recycling.
- Establish a bank that can give micro-loans and venture capital to start up micro-business.
- Establish STEAM Labs – (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics). Read the following article: TEAM INSOMNIACS.
- Language Labs – learn a new language e.g. Arabic or another – where the economic hubs are moving to for business.
- Improve skills set e.g. plumbing, electrical work, bricklaying etc.
- Implement a consistent programme of doing Life Goal Planning sessions with pupils on an individual basis.
Let us collaborate and make a start to a new beginning.