We live in an increasingly complex world of rapid change and can only begin to imagine what the future will look like. It is also a very troubled world in which we are confronted daily with a myriad of challenges. The sheer scale of information and social constraints threaten to overwhelm us and we may be justified in thinking that it is no longer possible to become an educated person. Contrary to this view, however, I believe that it is not only possible, but also imperative that we do so if we are to both survive and thrive in the modern world. Any rewards will outweigh the challenges. The real question is not really whether it is possible to become and educated person, but exactly what that education should look like in such a climate?
Education is highly valued universally and the sphere of education today is extensive. In most countries, in addition to a developed system of state schooling, there is an expanding system of private schooling. This has arisen in response to the growing demand for qualifications and accreditation in an increasingly diverse range of professions. However, being an educated person today is not simply about possessing knowledge. The educated person is one who is able to utilise knowledge and apply it productively for the good of the society in which they live.
Becoming an educated person is a social process and the end result of education should bring about a better life for all. Despite the fact that we are so clearly limited in our knowledge of what the future may bring, this should not stop us from seeking to educate our children in the kinds of values that will create a better future for all: teaching them how to participate fully in society (within safe boundaries); teaching them how to pursue and critically evaluate new ideas; and teaching them how to work together democratically to ensure a fair distribution of resources to all. It is important for schools to teach and model appropriate social relationships. Today’s student relates to many different people in many different contexts across cultures, gender, age, and status. They relate face-to-face and online via a variety of electronic media. Parents and schools share a duty to both teach and model positive relationships.
Technology is also advancing at such a rate that what is understood and used today will no doubt be superseded in another generation. Education needs to positively address the changes in technology, equipping and empowering students to embrace and fully utilise the new technologies available to them.
Education is a