In the wrap at last week’s #trudublin we touched upon the fact that our current education system was the product of the industrial revolution and since its introduction the core concepts have changed little. We concluded that the system is in need of an overhaul to produce the skills we now require.

That macro-level discussion was followed two days later by a related micro-level discussion at a family party. This time I was talking with a university lecturer whose daughter is about to take her GCSEs.

She asked him to help her with a piece of work she was doing for one of her revision papers and he responded that it would take him the equivalent of four one-hour lectures to talk through the issues. She replied that all she wanted was to find out what she needed to know to pass the exam.

His analysis of the situation was a question: do we want our children to learn how to drive or how to pass their driving test? He went on to say that our current education system (with its rankings) is tailored towards passing exams and that we are not providing our children with the skills to ‘know how to drive’.

Further proof, he said, was that his students (in the biological sciences) had difficulty with the concept of choosing what they wanted to learn and how to focus on those areas (how his university department is run). They needed structure ie to be told what to do – which is what they get a lot of in their school years.

This example feeds back into the #trudublin discussion: we are not only talking about subject expertise we are talking about its knowledge and application and what I’d call the the skills of application that are required in the workplace. These are the ‘learning to drive skills’  – the mastery, which is ongoing.

Added to the these are  a whole range of associated skills such as critical thinking, analysis, innovation, creativity, collaboration etc that are critical in a rapidly changing world.

Our education system produces people who learn how to pass their driving test but our workplaces need people who want to learn how to drive.