For A New Education System

11.4.2013
Words by Arnaldur Sigurðarson
Education as we know it is pretty similar in westernized countries. You have pre-school or kindergarten for the youngest children, primary school, high school/college and finally university. All these stages of education follow a similar structure with a similar hierarchy of subjects with mother tongue, math and science at the top, the humanities in the middle and the arts at the very bottom. This model of education dates back to the industrial revolution because there was an increasing demand for labourers with the basic skills that the education institutions of the time provided.

This model is however severely out-dated in the world of the internet. The world is changing faster and new technology is being developed faster. Technological change will soon make jobs obsolete faster than they are created if that development hasn't started already. It sure seems to be here already considering the fact that a lot of young people today who have completed a university education are having trouble finding a job in their field. Modern education strip mines our minds for particular commodities because of preconceived out-dated notions of what intelligence is. There is a lack on emphasis on the arts, creative thinking and truly utilizing the potential flexibility that the internet has to offer in the area of education.

The dropout rate in Icelandic schools is a lot higher than in the other Nordic countries. An issue that has not been discussed enough is the fact that the dropout rate for boys is significantly higher than for girls according to an OECD report published in 2011. This is especially true of students who have learning disabilities such as dyslexia or ADD/ADHD who often feel frustrated with the lack of options and do not feel engaged in what they are doing.

I along with several of my fellow Pirate nominees for the upcoming parliamentary elections are planning to introduce an education platform that will hopefully end up as a parliamentary resolution that will introduce a set of policies that would greatly reduce the dropout rate and increase students’ interest in their own education. We are looking at several other policies that have already been applied with great success in other European countries.

Putting a greater emphasis on creativity in schools both in the arts and in more formal subjects will greatly increase students’ ability to empower the multitude of different skills they possess. Teaching computer programming and code starting in primary school will prepare students for a future that is highly dependent on the internet and requires a lot more programmers. Half of the world’s population will be connected to the internet within the next four years and the internet economy is expected to double in that time. Philosophy and gender studies should also be taught in primary school in order to improve critical thinking and give children a greater understanding of equality.

Introducing a more personalised form of education that suits each individual student will give students a greater ability to pursue their various talents. Online forms of education such as Coursera and Khan Academy have already been used as part of the curriculum in schools in other countries. It is only a matter of time before online forms of education start competing with the traditional forms. We need to speed up that process, because right now, we're wasting a lot of valuable talent to an education system designed for the industrial revolution and we need an education that is designed for the future.

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